SpaceX Launching Satellites Made For Space War

SpaceX is partnering with True Anomaly to launch Jackal Satellites into orbit, where their warfare capabilities will be tested.

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

A fierce space battle in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, “Sacrifice of Angels”

A battle in the stars is normally reserved for science fiction, but it looks like we are one step closer to space battles becoming part of our daily lives. Futurism reports that SpaceX is helping to launch special satellites designed by True Anomaly, a startup dedicated to space combat. Once in space, each “Jackal” satellite will practice “orbital pursuit” as they try to tag each other with sensors.

These sensors won’t cause any damage, so you don’t have to worry about this causing space debris to fall from the sky — at least, not yet. However, the ultimate goal of this company is “revolutionizing space security and sustainability,” and that means developing the technology necessary to eventually target rival spacecraft. They wish to do so on behalf of the United States of America, with the company website noting how their technology (with the help of SpaceX) is “designed to protect the interests of the United States and its Allies.”

Using SpaceX to test war satellites may seem a bit extreme right now because it’s not immediately clear whose rival spacecraft the country would even be shooting down. Nonetheless, in the fine tradition of the military-industrial complex, this is about preparing for the wars we’ll be fighting many years down the line rather than the wars we are fighting now. Interestingly, though, the CEO of True Anomaly believes that a conflict happening right now underscores the need for this technology.

CEO Even Rogers claims that “conflict exists on a continuum that begins with competition” and that “ultimately leads into full-scale conflict like what you’re seeing in Ukraine.” Implicitly, it seems that Rogers believes that Russia invaded Ukraine because they saw the country as a competitor that was very vulnerable to such an attack. That was certainly a major miscalculation on Russia’s part, but Rogers seems to believe that perfecting space warfare technology can help preempt potential attacks from America’s national rivals.

If the idea of SpaceX launching American war satellites into space sounds a bit spooky, we have a bit of good news. Right now, the Jackal satellites being tested don’t carry any kind of conventional weaponry such as guns, missiles, or lasers. Instead, these satellites are all about getting close to other satellites, zapping them with sensors, and getting info about any surveillance or weapons systems that might be aboard such satellites.

satellite solar system

Skeptics of this plan worry this may only be the beginning, and that Jackal satellites or other craft armed with weaponry will be the next thing SpaceX sends into the stars. Other critics worry that even if this doesn’t turn into outer space warfare, the very existence of such technology may be considered an aggressive move by rival nations. In this way, tech meant to prevent the escalation of hostilities may end up causing that very escalation.

However, SpaceX has led the way into a renewed interest in space exploration, and like NASA before them, the company can’t always be too picky about where they get funding. True Anomaly may or may not be successful at turning space into the next warzone. And if both Earth and the space around earth become a bit too hot, it only makes the SpaceX mission to colonize the planet Mars that much more important.