SpaceX’s plans to increase the constellation of Starlink internet satellites from 12,000 to 42,000 “should put the international community on high alert,” China Military Online, a news site affiliated with the Central Military Commission, the PRC’s top national defence organ, has warned
China Military Online questioned Starlink’s lofty claims that it was a “civilian” programme, pointing to strong ties with the US military going back years – starting with the fact that some of the satellite launch sites have been built directly inside the Vanderberg Air Force Base.
The system’s use in Ukraine isn’t even the first instance of Starlink’s cooperation with the Pentagon, the outlet noted. In 2019, SpaceX carried out a series of tests funded the US Air Force to see how well Starlink satellites can communicate via encrypted networks with military aircraft. A year later, in May 2020, the US Army and SpaceX penned an agreement to use Starlink to transmit data across Pentagon networks. In October of the same year, SpaceX won a $150 million contract to create satellites for military use. In March 2021, plans were announced for the Air Force to further test Starlink’s internet capabilities. In March 2022, the Air Force reported successful testing of data transmission between F-35 fighters using Starlink satellites at speeds up to 160 megabytes per second.
“When completed, Starlink satellites can be mounted with reconnaissance, navigation and meteorological devices to further enhance the US military’s combat capability in such areas as reconnaissance remote sensing, communications relay, navigation and positioning, attack and collision, and space sheltering,” the outlet stressed.
These tools “will give the US military a head start on the future battlefield and become an ‘accomplice’ for the US to continue to dominate the space,” it added.
About 2,200 Starlink satellites orbit the planet today.
Musk announced in March that he’d delivered Starlink internet terminals to Ukraine. Last week, Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said Musk would be held “accountable”
after Starlink terminals were discovered among Ukrainian troops and Azov neo-Nazi fighters in Mariupol.
with a sarcastic tear-jerking tweet that if he “die[d] under mysterious circumstances, it’s been nice knowin ya.”