Its been around a week since Russian soldiers invaded Ukraine, they caused destruction and deaths of civilians across the country. In some regions, the war has caused access to communication services to be cut off due to the destruction of infrastructure. The Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine Mykhailo Fedorov asked SpaceX founder Elon Musk for help with connecting communities to the Starlink broadband constellation after Russian soldiers invaded the country’s capital and intentionally destroyed some communications towers. “Elon Musk, 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,” wrote Fedorov in a Twitter post on February 26. Musk immediately responded to Fedorov’s request for help –“Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route,” he replied.
By February 28, Fedorov shared a photograph of a truck filled with Starlink user terminal boxes that were delivered by SpaceX. “Starlink — here. Thanks, Elon Musk,” he captioned the photo. “You are most welcome,” said Musk. The Starlink network could be useful for Ukrainian first responders and soldiers to communicate with each other to coordinate civilian safety operations. SpaceX currently operates 2,200 satellites to Low Earth Orbit that beam internet data to user terminals in rural regions across 29 countries.
You are most welcome— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 28, 2022
As global tensions continued to escalate, Russian leaders became aware of what SpaceX did to help the people of Ukraine and Musk announced –“Important warning: Starlink is the only non-Russian communications system still working in some parts of Ukraine, so probability of being targeted is high. Please use with caution,” he wrote via Twitter on March 3rd. . “Turn on Starlink only when needed and place antenna away as far away from people as possible. Place light camouflage over antenna to avoid visual detection,” he advised.
Important warning: Starlink is the only non-Russian communications system still working in some parts of Ukraine, so probability of being targeted is high. Please use with caution.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 3, 2022
Place light camouflage over antenna to avoid visual detection— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 3, 2022
On the same day, Musk shared that SpaceX Starlink engineers are working to release a software update that will allow the Starlink user terminals (dish antennas) to reduce their power consumption to work on low-energy even when Ukrainians experience power outages in the midst of the war. “Updating software to reduce peak power consumption, so Starlink can be powered from car cigarette lighter,” Musk said, “Mobile roaming enabled, so phased array antenna can maintain signal while on moving vehicle.” If Starlink users experience a power outage in the middle of the conflict, they can connect the dish to a car’s cigarette lighter to communicate via the Starlink satellite network. This feature is useful for rescue teams that are protecting civilians on the go.
Updating software to reduce peak power consumption, so Starlink can be powered from car cigarette lighter.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 3, 2022
Mobile roaming enabled, so phased array antenna can maintain signal while on moving vehicle.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX
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.