Elon Musk's SpaceX Working With Northrop Grumman on Secret Spy Satellite Project for US Intelligence: Report

By Jace Dela Cruz

Apr 19, 2024 02:24 AM EDT

Elon Musk's SpaceX has reportedly partnered with Northrop Grumman on a secret spy satellite project to capture high-resolution images of Earth. 

A delegate takes a photograph of SpaceX, X (formerly known as Twitter), and Tesla CEO Elon Musk during the UK Artificial Intelligence (AI) Safety Summit at Bletchley Park, in central England, on November 1, 2023.
(Photo : TOBY MELVILLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Elon Musk's SpaceX Teams Up With Northrop Grumman

Citing people familiar with the program, Reuters reported that this joint endeavor seeks to bolster the US government's surveillance capabilities to track military and intelligence targets by deploying satellites in low-Earth orbits.

The imagery obtained from these satellites surpasses the resolution typically obtained by drones and reconnaissance aircraft. The program's details were first reported by Reuters last month, but the inclusion of Northrop Grumman was not mentioned.

The involvement of other contractors also remains unclear, as SpaceX and Northrop Grumman have not confirmed any additional participants or potential future collaborators. 

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SpaceX Satellites

The sources told Reuters that Northrop Grumman's role primarily revolves around providing sensors for select SpaceX satellites, which will undergo testing at the aerospace and defense company's facilities before deployment. 

In the upcoming years, approximately 50 of SpaceX's satellites are anticipated to undergo various procedures, including testing and sensor installation, at Northrop Grumman's facilities.

Last month, Reuters reported that the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), an intelligence agency overseeing US spy satellite development, awarded SpaceX a $1.8 billion contract in 2021 for the classified project of a planned network of hundreds of satellites. 

So far, the sources noted that SpaceX, the space venture of tech billionaire Elon Musk, has released around a dozen prototypes and is already delivering test imagery to the NRO.

READ MORE: Elon Musk's SpaceX Facing California Investigation Over Discrimination, Sexual Harassment Against Female Workers

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