I only found out today via SpaceNews that SpaceX quietly launched a new venture some time last month.
Now that SpaceX has established itself as a leading provider of U.S. national security launches, it is seeking a bigger share of the defense market with a new product line called Starshield. SpaceX quietly unveiled Starshield last month offering defense and intelligence agencies custom-built spacecraft, sensors, and secure communications services leveraging SpaceX’s investment in its Starlink network of broadband satellites.
I also somehow hadn't heard that last October, the Pentagon released a national defense strategy document that talked about the challenges of the current "world order" and especially the role of China. The pentagon calls China a “pacing challenge” that threatens to surpass the United States in defense and space technologies. To win this race, DoD intends to tap commercial innovation.
“We have in the United States by far the most resilient commercial space enterprise anywhere in the world. The Chinese know that, and we’re going to lean into that,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said Dec. 8 at an Aspen Security Forum in Washington. “We’re going to make sure we’re working closely with the commercial sector and leveraging all that commercial space capability.”
Who better to tap than the most innovative company in the launch business, the company using that launch capability to build out its Starlink constellation of internet access satellites? Which isn't to say that there won't be competitive selection processes involved or that there aren't innovative "smart fellers" in the other companies; it's just that SpaceX has a head start. They're at the center of the what prompted the DoD to start this project. It appears to be based on one important example (you guessed it): Ukraine and the role that modern technologies have played, especially the 20,000 + Starlink terminals SpaceX donated to Ukraine.
Russia’s war in Ukraine cast a powerful spotlight on the space industry, notably on the value of imaging satellites and on SpaceX’s satellite broadband service Starlink. The system — with well over 3,000 satellites in orbit and thousands more to come — demonstrated resilience against jamming and showed the strength of this kind of proliferated architecture.
“This wasn’t available before,” John Plumb, assistant secretary of defense for space policy, said Dec. 14 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Ukraine is the first major conflict, he noted, where commercial space technology has come into play in a significant way.
The Starlink constellations and their resilience to jamming as a commercial product, not a military system impressed assistant secretary Plumb and Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering enough to commit to the initiative aimed at private space. “Because of the rapidly improving commercial space capabilities, a comprehensive plan for using commercial space systems in the context of classified U.S. space capabilities is needed.”
The Starshield initiative hasn't been talked about much by SpaceX which is why none of us have heard of it before. SpaceNews reported that SpaceX’s website has coverage of Starshield so I went looking for it and it turned up at the first search I tried: https://www.spacex.com/starshield.
Screen capture from a portion of their Starshield page.
The source article on SpaceNews is an interesting read. SpaceX isn't the only company they mention and the market is big enough that more than one will be involved. The realization that commercial space is the future and government money is going to flow toward it is spreading. What the DoD wants is defense technologies at the innovation rate of commercial technologies.