Is Elon Musk's SpaceX up to spy satellite network for US intelligence agency?

Spy satellite network will be based on hundreds of satellites equipped with Earth-imaging capabilities
A representational image displaying a rocket launch. — Unsplash

A representational image displaying a rocket launch. — Unsplash

In what seems to be a sign of warming ties between tech billionaire Elon Musk and the United States, SpaceX is reportedly working to build a network of spy satellite network for the US intelligence agency. 

Being designed as an outcome of a $1.8 billion agreement SpaceX signed in 2021 with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) — an intelligence agency overseeing spy satellites — the network will be based on hundreds of satellites. 

While this suggests substantial meddling of SpaceX in the US intelligence and military projects, the network, if succeeded, would make the US to better gun down potential threats across the globe, Reuters reported while citing sources familiar with the matter. 

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Without reflecting in great detail. the Wall Street Journal in February reported SpaceX's $1.8 billion classified contract, dubbed as Starshield, with an unspecified intelligence agency.

While it's uncertain as to when the network will be get fully functional, it was learned that the spy satellite network would possess capabilities to visually capture Earth and swim as a swarm in low orbits.

In spite of conforming to the the development of a satellite network and its collaboration with other government agencies, companies, research institutions and nations, NRO did not disclose how significant role SpaceX has in this project.

"The National Reconnaissance Office is developing the most capable, diverse, and resilient space-based intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance system the world has ever seen," an NRO spokesperson said.

Reuters, citing sources, further revealed that a dozen of prototypes have been launched since 2020 in an effort to conduct inspections of whether the network would function stably after its comprehensive establishment or not.

The US government's database for objects in orbit shows the deployment of multiple SpaceX missions. However, this development has neither been acknowledged by SpaceX not the US government.