SpaceX’s New Project Is A Middle Finger To Putin
Elon Musk hates Putin with a passion. One of the primary motivators for developing and expanding SpaceX was to topple Putin’s monopoly on crewed space launches. Musk’s Starlink is also a crucial technology in empowering the Ukrainian forces to annihilate Putin’s pathetic ones. But Elon’s latest program, Starshield, promises to impact Russia far more than anything else he has done.
In March 2018, the US Space Development Agency (SDA) was formed. One of its missions was to develop missile defence systems that use low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. In October 2020, the SDA awarded SpaceX $150 million for a dual-use contract to develop a particular military version of the Starlink satellite to become a part of their new system known as the National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA). The NDSA will have seven layers: data transport, battle management, missile tracking, weapons targeting, navigation, deterrence, and ground support. SpaceX could, in theory, service all of these layers thanks to this dual-use contract.
This militarised version of Starlink, dubbed “Starshield” by Elon Musk, can function as a high-speed space-based communications system as well as carry additional payloads, allowing it to function as a highly flexible, highly detailed, and global earth observatory. Starshield satellites are based on V1.5 and V2.0 Starlink satellites, but they are larger and more powerful (with twice the solar cell area), which enables them to carry and power additional payloads. One such payload will be military imaging technology that will enable Starshield to identify and track objects of interest on the surface of Earth. So far, this is the only confirmed additional payload, though it is likely that the NDSA has other technologies in the works for these incredible missions.
The first of these Starshield satellites was supposed to launch in September 2022, but SpaceX struggled to source the electronics needed, causing delays. They are now expected to launch in mid-December 2022. These initial launches are more closely aligned with the US government (as it is they who are paying for the launch), but SpaceX has hinted that other governments, most likely those in NATO, could use them to avoid…