For those who have been following Starlink, Elon Musk’s and SpaceX’s forays above and in orbit around our planet and how they’re deploying their “Mega Satellite Constellation network in low-earth orbit, our stories and coverage of it, you’re aware that it doesn’t bode well for observational astronomy from the surface either in the radio spectrum or the optical.

Well, just when you thought that was bad enough, there’s more bad news and its worse, a lot worse! It’s a lot worse but the potential to put the brakes on it is greater.

With around-the-clock coverage of “COVID-19”, many important stories are eclipsed and this is one of them.

It now emerges that DARPA, the US Government’s “Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency” has been quietly working on a militarized version of Starlink to be deployed over next 12 – 18 months. Starting with the launch of the Mandrake I satellite later this year, Project Blackjack will have been born and according to the story in C4ISRNET, the US Military will have taken “an important first step toward a new global military communication network.

“Blackjack seeks to develop and validate critical elements of global high-speed autonomous networks in [Low Earth Orbit],”

reads a DARPA statement provided to C4ISRNET,

“proving a capability that could provide the Department of Defense with highly connected, resilient, and persistent overhead coverage.”

According to Blackjack Program Manager Paul Thomas in speaking with C4ISRNET

It’s important that we get the design right

Thomas continues:

We focused first on buses and payloads, then the autonomous mission management system, which we call Pit Boss. We anticipate we’ll begin integrating the first two military payloads next summer with launch via rideshare in late 2021, followed by the remainder of the Blackjack demonstration sub-constellation in 2022.”

I’m not going to take-up more space here describing this otherwise quietly-kept project; the reader can read the full story at C4ISRNET here.

Unlike Starlink, DARPA is a US Government agency and thus, is funded by US Taxpayer money. For those of you who have followed the Terminator Franchise starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and the final battle between humanity and “the machines“, this project -and the consequences if it is allowed to come to fruition and left unchecked, not just to observational astronomy but to the survival of any notion of privacy or liberty- should cause you to pause. Once deployed by a government -or even a large corporate interest in the private sector, such projects and capital investments will forever persist in one form or another and thus, can never be deployed in the first place!

One has to ask the glaring question: Combined with Starlink and the destruction of the unspoiled night sky notwithstanding, what is the reason the US Government finds it necessary to deploy a surveillance network capable of such extraordinary resolution, reach and granularity -and the potential for abuse -in earth orbit and on a global scale? It should be pointed out that US administrations change every 4 years and thus, the benevolence or progressive nature of one administration could be quickly reversed and undone by the next.

Perhaps we now know the answer to the question why the US Government was so generous to Elon Musk’s SpaceX and why they supported the recent coup in Bolivia, a country rich in Lithium and Rare Earths, two resources necessary to produce and sustain high-tech hardware.

Project Blackjack has to be shutdown Immediately and cannot be allowed to continue!

If you’re a US citizen reading this story, you’re a member of a representative democracy, and thus it is incumbent upon you to contact your representatives in the US Senate and the House of Representatives to demand all funding for this project be terminated immediately!

United States Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121

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