The Starlink internet service run by Elon Musk’s SpaceX may be used by the “hegemony-obsessed US” to dominate space and bring “chaos or calamity” to the world.
That’s according to a recent commentary published by China Military Online, an official website linked to China’s Central Military Commission, which is headed by President Xi Jinping.
It expressed alarm about the use of the Starlink service in Ukraine to interact with drones, and suggested that it may have already played a role in the conflict with Russia via big data and facial recognition technology.
“SpaceX has decided to increase the number of Starlink satellites from 12,000 to 42,000 – the programme’s unchecked expansion and the company’s ambition to use it for military purposes should put the international community on high alert,” it said. “Clearly, the military applications of the Starlink program 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.”
The report said SpaceX launched 53 satellites last month and now has 2,400 satellites in a low-earth orbit.
Strong US Military Links
While Starlink claims to be a civilian program that provides high-speed Internet services, the commentary claimed it has a strong military background, citing launch sites built within the Vandenberg Air Force Base. The group has launched satellites from American airbases and cooperated with the military “many times,” it said.
Three years ago SpaceX received funds from the US Air Force to test how well Starlink satellites can relay encrypted communication to military aircraft, it said.
In 2020, the US Army allegedly signed a deal to use Starlink’s broadband to transmit data, plus a $150-million contract to develop military satellites, and last year it was transmitting data to F-35A fighter jets at speeds “30 times faster than traditional connections,” the commentary added.
Starlink’s satellites could have reconnaissance, navigation and meteorological devices added to them to enhance the US military’s combat capability to boost remote sensing, communications, navigation and positioning, attack and collision, and space sheltering, the report said.
Pentagon officials were impressed last month by SpaceX’s swift efforts to block an electro-magnetic attack by Russia that aimed to jam its Starlink broadband satellite service and help people in Ukraine retain their link to the internet, according to a report by Defense News.
Elon Musk allegedly boasted that “Starlink was the only non-Russian communications system still working in some parts of Ukraine in the wake of the invasion.”
There have also been reports of Starlink aiding the Ukrainian military in precision strikes on Russian tanks and forces because its high data rates enable better links. Drones could also serve as relay units to transmit data.
China’s Starlink Concerns
The China Military Online report says Starlink is already a “space juggernaut” and a megaproject that could transform global communications and give birth to “a gigantic Starlink biosphere, and monopolize the future space application market.”
It cited experts who say that if SpaceX installs a few root servers in the space, “it can make Starlink the second independent global Internet, which will pose a serious challenge to all countries in defending their cyberspace sovereignty and protecting their information security.”
• Jim Pollard
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