SpaceX’s Starlink satellites have now been deployed over Ukraine and more are on the way, according to the company’s billionaire CEO Elon Musk, after a plea for help from the country’s deputy prime minister on Saturday .
Mykhailo Fedorov, who is also Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, tweeted Musk asking SpaceX to turn on its Starlink broadband satellites to supplement the country’s internet services that have been disrupted during Russia’s ongoing invasion.
“@elonmusk, while you are trying to colonize Mars, Russia is trying to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets are successfully landing from space, Russian rockets are attacking Ukrainian civilians!” Fedorov posted.
Within hours, he had his answer. “Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals on the way,” Musk tweeted in response.
Internet connectivity has been particularly affected in the southern and eastern regions of Ukraine where fighting to repel advancing Russian forces has been the most intense.
Fedorov tweeted his thanks to the billionaire after the news. The country’s official Twitter account @Ukraine also acknowledged Musk’s actions, tweeting “Thank you [sic]enjoy it”.
What are Starlink satellites?
Why is this important? Well, Starlink satellites are capable of delivering broadband Internet connections from space without the need for fiber optic cables on Earth.
The idea behind SpaceX’s project is to provide high-speed Internet access to people in the most remote areas of the world through a constellation of satellites orbiting the planet.
The deployment of Starlink satellites over Ukraine means the beleaguered country will continue to have internet connectivity without the threat of the Russians disabling it and cutting off vital communications.
To connect to the internet, users need a Starlink kit – which includes a router – and a clear view of the sky.
SpaceX has sent more than 2,000 satellites into space since launching the first 60 terminals in 2019, with plans to have up to 42,000 satellites in lower Earth orbit in the future.
The project was not without detractors.
NASA in particular has been vocal in its criticism of SpaceX’s plans, saying earlier this month in a letter to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that more objects in space would diminish “the ability of our planet to detect and possibly redirect a potentially catastrophic impact”. .