Chinese Criticize Secret SpaceX-NRO Program to Launch a Swarm of Hundreds of Spy Satellites


It surfaced this weekend that SpaceX is working in a classified project with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to build a secret system of swarming spy satellites.

The $1.8 billion with SpaceX’s Starshield unit contract was signed back in 2021, but news of it only leaked to the mainstream media two days ago.

The reaction from Beijing was swift. Chinese military and state-run media accused the United States of ‘threatening global security’ by hiring Elon Musk’s SpaceX to build ‘hundreds of spy satellites’ for a U.S. intelligence agency.

Reuters reported:

“A social media account run by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said the SpaceX program exposed the United States’ ‘shamelessness and double standards’ as Washington accuses Chinese tech companies of threatening U.S. security.

‘We urge U.S. companies to not help a villain do evil’, Junzhengping, an account run by the PLA, posted on social media platform Weibo on Sunday. The account has 1.1 million followers.

SpaceX, the largest satellite operator in the world, declines to comment on the project.

‘All countries worldwide should be vigilant and protect against new and even bigger security threats created by the U.S. government,’ the post said.”

Wang Yanan from Chinese Aerospace Knowledge magazine: “The SpaceX satellite project poses a challenge to global security and stability. The United States’ high-profile intelligence reconnaissance of countries or regions it is concerned about will inevitably cause some hot issues to become more sensitive or even escalate.”

NRO acknowledges its space reconnaissance goal, but did not confirm this project.

The leaked SpaceX project may endanger Musk’s other ventures, such as Tesla, an electric vehicle maker with a manufacturing presence in China.

NRO and SpaceX naturally would not comment on the secret project.

The Starshield network is separate from the commercial Starlink broadband constellation that provides internet services to consumers, companies, and government agencies.

It is also known that China – while protesting NRO’s project – also plans to start building its own satellite constellations.

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