Over the past few days, Ukraine has been under attack by Russian forces, who are now battling to control the nation’s capital. As a result, top government officials have been begging for help from other countries as they fight for their freedom, the most recent is a need for Starlink internet service.
Update: The terminals have arrived in Ukraine.
In a tweet, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Information asked SpaceX CEO Elon Musk for access to the company’s Starlink internet service. Launched back in 2019, the service has moved out of beta and covers most of the globe.
@elonmusk, while you try to colonize Mars — Russia try to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets successfully land from space — Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people! We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations and to address sane Russians to stand.Mykhailo Fedorov, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine
It is being reported that Russian forces have been targeting internet infrastructure to confuse Ukraine. Musk’s Starlink service would have the ability to provide remote access to the internet that would be harder for Russia to shut down.
How could Starlink help Ukraine?
Starlink is a mega-constellation of satellites covering the majority of Earth. Starlink satellites orbit at a much lower altitude than typical communication satellites, giving them the ability to provide high-speed internet with much lower latency.
A user would need a pizza-sized dish and router from SpaceX and a power source to start receiving a connection. However, SpaceX might need to build a ground station near Ukraine based on how current Starlink satellites operate.
Right now, there are two types of Starlink satellites: those with interconnects and those without them. These interconnects allow the satellites to bounce communications between satellites, which means one could reach a ground station outside Ukraine, the closest being in Poland with two more in Germany.
SpaceX has donated Starlink terminals to governments in the past to help fight wildfires or as a result of national disasters. This would be a new step for the company to intervene and support a country at war, but with a tool as powerful as worldwide internet access, it was bound to happen eventually.
SpaceX wouldn’t be going against its country if they chose to help. The US Secretary of Defense just authorized another $350 million in assistance to Ukraine to help in its defense. Although this might be a tough ask still for the billionaire to help, we don’t know the technical details to provide coverage to a new area, and it could require SpaceX employees to go into harm’s way.
Elon Musk agrees to help Ukraine with Starlink access
In a reply to Minister Fedorov’s tweet, Musk agreed to help Ukraine by allowing the nation access to Starlink’s service and sending more terminals. How these Starlink terminals will get to nation’s forces under siege is unknown.
With 48 hours of Elon Musk accepting Ukraine’s plea for Starlink terminals a truckload of them arrived.