SpaceX Shifts Priorities To Starlink Cyber Defense Amid Russia-Ukraine War

SpaceX Shifts Priorities To Starlink Cyber Defense Amid Russia-Ukraine War

SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced on Friday, March 4, that the company will shift its priorities to Starlink cyber defense amid the Russian-Ukraine war. SpaceX delivered Starlink user terminals to Ukraine after the country’s Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov asked for help to maintain communications in the country active to aid in keeping civilians safe. It has been around ten days since Russian soldiers invaded Ukraine, they have caused destruction and deaths of innocent people. One of Russia’s tactics is to destroy communication’s infrastructures to prevent Ukrainians to coordinate their defense tactics and inhibit their ability to continue sharing the truth of what is happening on the groud via social media.  

Russian soldiers have intentionally destroyed ground infrastructures of telecommunications services. SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellation is unaffected by the Russia-Ukraine war because the company operates data ground stations all over the world that work alongside around 2,000 satellites in Low Earth Orbit to beam internet service to user terminals. The Russians are trying to inhibit Starlink’s ability to operate reliably in Ukraine. They already conducted a cyberattack on the Viasat internet provider that caused internet outage in the region. It appears that Russia is now trying to do the same with SpaceX’s broadband network. “SpaceX reprioritized to cyber defense & overcoming signal jamming,” said Musk, “Will cause slight delays in Starship & Starlink V2,” he added. 

SpaceX is developing Starship to return NASA astronauts to the Moon by 2025 and Starlink V2 (version 2) is the company’s next-generation Starlink satellite system that will utilize inter-satellite laser links to beam even faster internet service globally. The Starlink V2 system also relies on Starship to be deployed because it will be capable of launching around 400 satellites on a single mission, unlike the Falcon 9 which can only launch around 60 per launch. Starlink will enable the company to complete its entire constellation of 12,000 satellites at a much faster pace. For now, those plans have to wait. Musk’s announcement suggests that SpaceX’s engineers’ top priority now is to keep the Starlink network working to assist Ukrainian people and also ensure that their overall network does not suffer any damages due to a Russian cyberattack. "Some Starlink terminals near conflict areas were being jammed for several hours at a time. Our latest software update bypasses the jamming," he shared.

The world is trying to convince Russia to stop its agression against Ukraine because it is killing innocent civilians and destroying their communities. In an effort to convince Russian dictator Vladimir Putin to order his soldiers to retreat, governments from around the world are imposing strong sanctions on the country and companies have decided to stop providing a wide-range of services to put pressure on oligarchs who might be able to convince Putin to stop the invasion. Musk shared that SpaceX’s Starlink division was asked by some governments to block Russian websites in to try to stop Russian-crafted propaganda from spreading and exclude the country online activity from the rest of the world. However, Musk is a firm believer in free speech for everyone and silencing the opposition is not an option because it could set a dangerous precedent for freedom of speech in general. “Starlink has been told by some governments (not Ukraine) to block Russian news sources. We will not do so unless at gunpoint. Sorry to be a free speech absolutist,” said Musk via Twitter.


Featured Image Source: Getty Images

About the Author

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.

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