SpaceX partnered with the U.S. Agency for International Development to send 15,000 Starlink user terminals to Ukraine amid the Russia invasion earlier this year. Today, June 11, marks 3 months and 2 weeks since Russia started a full-scale war against Ukraine. The Starlink satellite broadband constellation has proven to be a reliable source of communication in the country, especially for government authorities and emergency response teams who are working around-the-clock to keep civilians safe from Russian soldiers’ aggression.
U.S. Brigadier General Steven Butow says SpaceX's Starlink services have been vital for Ukrainian military operations, he has worked with SpaceX Starlink representatives as the director of the space portfolio at the defense innovation unit. "The strategic impact is, it totally destroyed [Vladimir] Putin's information campaign," Butow told Politico reporters. Russia is known to run misinformation campaigns to control its population; that tactic has not worked with Ukrainian civilians thanks to SpaceX's Starlink. "He never, to this day, has been able to silence Zelenskyy," said Butow about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
"It helped us a lot, in many moments related to the blockade of our cities, towns, and related to the occupied territories," Zelenskyy told Wired reporters in an exclusive interview. "Sometimes we completely lost communication with those places. To lose contact with those people is to lose control completely, to lose reality. [...] Believe me: people who got out of the occupied cities, where there was no such assistance as Starlink, said that the Russians told them that Ukraine doesn't exist anymore, and some people even began to believe it. I am really grateful for the support of Starlink," said Zelenskyy.
SpaceX operates approximately 2,600 Starlink satellites in Low Earth Orbit. The network has allowed soldiers to maintain contact with family members and coordinate fighting tactics. Starkink is very easy to access by simply connecting the user antenna to a power source and pointing it at the sky with easy instructions that allow anyone to access from anywhere in just a few minutes. Politico wrote a great story about how a Ukrainian soldier is using Starlink during combat - Read it here: UkraineX: How Elon Musk’s space satellites changed the war on the ground.
"We’ve got more than 11,000 Starlink stations and they help us in our everyday fight on all the fronts," says Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov, "We’re ready, even if there is no light, no fixed internet, through generators using Starlink, to renew any connection in Ukraine." Alongside the Starlink user terminals, SpaceX founder Elon Musk also delivered Tesla electricity generators and car cigarette lighter power adapters to use Starlink aboard vehicles.
In April, the U.S. Director of electronic warfare for the Pentagon’s acquisition office Dave Tremper said he is impressed by Starlink's capabilities and the SpaceX engineering team's ability to protect the network against Russian cyberattacks with software updates. "[...] There’s a really interesting case study to look at the agility that Starlink had in their ability to address that problem," said Tremper. “From an EW [Electronic Warfare] technologist perspective, that is fantastic. That paradigm and how they did that is kind of eye-watering to me,” he added, “The way that Starlink was able to upgrade when a threat showed up, we need to be able to have that ability. We have to be able to change our electromagnetic posture, to be able to change very dynamically what we’re trying to do without losing capability along the way,” he said on April 20th during the C4ISRNET military conference.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX Starlink.com
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.