Today marks 272 days since Russian soldiers invaded Ukraine. The war has destroyed critical utility infrastructures and displaced millions of people across the country. In February, Ukrainian government officials asked SpaceX to help maintain a reliable communication system in the country by providing Starlink satellite internet; the company immediately shipped the hardware. To date, the company has delivered over 25,000 Starlink user terminals to Ukraine. A portion of the hardware was donated by SpaceX founder Elon Musk which includes free internet service. The donation has cost the company "$80 million and will exceed $100 million by end of year," according to Musk. The other portion of the hardware was donated by the United States government, United Kingdom, Poland, and global organizations that support humanitarian efforts.
Starlink has demonstrated it is reliable in the war-torn country. Soldiers and emergency responders use the service to coordinate operations that keep civilians safe from the Russian aggressors. SpaceX Starlink started to assist emergency responders in war-torn Kherson, Ukraine, this month. "Kherson medics received 10 Starlink kits," a Twitter user captioned a photo of the crew with the Starlink Kit boxes, shown below. The Kit includes a phased array antenna that receives data from the satellites in orbit and a Wi-Fi router to access the internet wirelessly. Starlink is helping teams communicate reliably to coordinate evacuation operations after Ukraine won some battles that liberated some areas in Kherson and Mykolaiv regions. People living in southern regions have been advised to move to safer areas situated in the central and western parts of the country. The authorities fear that a lack of reliable power, heat, and clean water will make surviving winter hard if people do not evacuate the regions destroyed by Russian shelling. On Monday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk urged people to evacuate and said the government will provide transportation, medical care, and shelter.
Ukrzaliznytsia provided Kherson railway station with backup power & Starlink terminals - the station became the second point in the city where people can charge their mobile phones and connect to the network. 📡— Dima Zeniuk 🇺🇦 (@DimaZeniuk) November 16, 2022
📸: @Ukrzaliznytsia @elonmusk @SpaceXStarlink @EvaFoxU pic.twitter.com/MbUxTHD31P
Ukrainian government has also set-up multiple SpaceX Starlink public access stations across Kherson communities, including train stations along evacuation routes. Starlink user terminals have been installed on top of trains that have enabled thousands to communicate with loved ones after weeks without communication, pictured below. "Elon Musk While I don’t agree with you about giving voice to people that brings the worst out of all of us, thanks for SpaceX Starlink in Kherson, a city with no electricity, or in a train from Kherson to Kiev…We were connected because Starlink and allowed us to feed thousands!" shared celebrity chef José Andrés, traveling to Kherson with his team offering free meals through his organization World Central Kitchen.
.@elonmusk While I don’t agree with you about giving voice to people that brings the worst out of all of us, thanks for @SpaceXStarlink in Kherson, a city with no electricity, or in a train from Kherson to Kiev…We were connected because Starlink and allowed us to feed thousands! pic.twitter.com/fEraesVlJY— José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) November 20, 2022
Thanks to Starlink, the first public Internet access points appeared in Kherson. pic.twitter.com/23psvCMWwh— MAKS 22🇺🇦 (@Maks_NAFO_FELLA) November 15, 2022
Civilization is back to Kherson.— Australian Voice for Ukraine 🇦🇺🇺🇦 (@aus_forukraine) November 22, 2022
Thousands gather around the starlink-equipped station where the legendary "Train to Victory" arrives full of people, food and hopes.
A day after demining, the locomotive runs with special protective shields, but the road is clear. pic.twitter.com/h4FlWPSjSe
Ukrainian engineers that work at Kyivstar and Vodafone, Ukraine's largest telecommunications operators, told Forbes that Starlink user terminals are helping them maintain communications to coordinate how to rebuild the terrestrial internet infrastructures that were destroyed. In the meantime, they set-up multiple Starlink terminals, provided by the government, to enable civilians to get back online in the now liberated Kherson area (pictured below).
photo source: Vodafone
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.