SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell highlighted the importance of the Starlink broadband network operating in Ukraine during the ongoing Russia invasion. The war has caused hundreds of civilian casualties and destroyed critical infrastructures across the country. Multiple reports state that the Russians strategically destroyed communications towers to inhibit people from coordinating defense operations and sharing their story with the rest of the world through social media.
To support the Ukrainian people, SpaceX founder Elon Musk donated trucks loaded with Starlink user terminals and Tesla solar batteries, among other tools to assist government officials and emergency response teams with keeping civilians safe. Shotwell said that providing Starlink Internet service to Ukraine "was the right thing to do." Starlink enables Ukrainian residents to continue sharing about their crisis with the world. –"I think the best way to uphold democracies is to make sure we all understand what the truth is," Shotwell said on March 7 during a discussion at the California Institute of Technology. Free-flow of information is also important to enable people to think critically by analyzing all angles of any particular situation. “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,” wrote Musk via Twitter.
Shotwell also shared that SpaceX was in the process of obtaining regulatory approval from Ukraine telecommunications authority to operate in the country weeks before the Russian invasion started. "We had been working on trying to get permission, landing rights, to lay down capacity in Ukraine. [...] We had been working with the Ukrainians for a month and a half or so," she said, according to SpaceNews. SpaceX sent the Starlink user terminals to Ukraine after the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine Mykhailo Fedorov sent a letter to Musk through Twitter. “They tweeted at Elon and so we turned it on. That was our permission. That was the letter from the minister. It was a tweet," said Shotwell. Immediately, the company figured out the logistics of how to deliver the Starkink kits and went beyond by introducing useful software updates to the user terminals. SpaceX enabled data roaming in Ukraine to allow people to move the user antenna anywhere they go, as well as introduced a software update to enable the dish antenna to reduce power consumption to be able to function with the energy of a car cigarette lighter; the feature is useful during power outages. SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service remains unaffected by the war, the user terminals receive data from around 2,000 satellites in Low Earth Orbit that work alongside ground station antennas in neighboring countries. The company is prioritizing cyber security to keep the network safe from Russian cyberattacks.
You’re welcome. We have also sent power adapters for car cigarette lighters, solar/battery packs and generators for places where electricity is not available.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 9, 2022
#SpaceX @elonmusk #Starlink— Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo 💙🦊🇺🇦 (@JaneidyEve) March 11, 2022
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell highlights the importance of Starlink in Ukraine –‘The best way to uphold democracies is to make sure we all understand what the truth is.’
by @JaneidyEve via @Tesmanian_comhttps://t.co/8UanHhdeOU
Featured Image Source: Deposit photos
About the Author
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.