A "legitimate target for retaliatory measures, including military ones."

Legitimate Target

Russia has accused the United States of using commercial satellite operators for its intelligence efforts — and is threatening to take military action in response.

The news comes days after Reuters released a report earlier this month, detailing a classified contract that SpaceX signed with a US intelligence agency to launch hundreds of spy satellites.

"We are aware of Washington's efforts to attract the private sector to serve its military space ambitions," foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters, as quoted by Reuters. These systems "become a legitimate target for retaliatory measures, including military ones."


Insider sources told Reuters that SpaceX was working on a massive constellation of spy satellites under its military-focused business unit, called Starshield. The Elon Musk-led company signed a $1.8 billion contract with the National Reconnaissance Office in 2021, as the Wall Street Journal reported last month.

The development highlights SpaceX's deepening ties with the US military, as well as the Pentagon's reliance on the private sector to gain a tactical advantage in orbit. World powers, including the US, Russia, and China, have been racing to develop space-based weapon systems that can take out adversary satellites.

The consequences of war in Earth's orbit could prove disastrous. Earlier this year, German military officials warned that nuclear-powered anti-satellite space weapons Russia is said to be developing could wipe out all satellites in its range, not just American or Russian ones.

According to Reuters, a SpaceX-powered spy constellation could give the US military a big leg up, allowing it to identify targets from across the globe through the use of continuous imagery of activities on the ground.

"No one can hide," one source told Reuters.

The relationship between SpaceX and the US military has been strained by the use of Starlink satellite technology in Ukraine. Musk has been accused of sabotaging the besieged country's military by cutting off its forces from Starlink internet.

It remains to be seen whether Russia's latest comments are anything more than empty threats — but the US military is certainly listening.

More on SpaceX: US Military Commander Worries China Could Launch Attack From Moon

Share This Article