SpaceX founder and billionaire Elon Musk is providing free satellite-based internet service in Ukraine through his company Starlink, as Russia invades the nation and causes power outages.
Starlink is a growing network of small satellites that SpaceX has been building out since 2018 to supply broadband internet access around the globe. On Monday, the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine and minister of digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, tweeted that a truck full of Starlink terminals had arrived on Ukraine soil, after he had requested them.
Starlink — here. Thanks, @elonmusk pic.twitter.com/dZbaYqWYCf
— Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) February 28, 2022
Fedorov had appealed to Musk in a tweet Saturday, asking him to extend Starlink’s high-speed broadband internet services to the besieged country, rhetorically noting that “while you try to colonize Mars — Russia try to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets successfully land from space — Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people!”
@elonmusk, 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.
— Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) February 26, 2022
Musk apparently obliged, tweeting Saturday that Starlink service was active in Ukraine and also agreeing to send more Starlink terminals to expand the country’s bandwidth.
“Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route,” Musk tweeted.
Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 26, 2022
Invading Russian troops have disrupted Ukraine’s internet infrastructure, making service unreliable and spotty in parts of the country.
The Starlink service, which its website bills as being “ideal for rural and remote communities” and other locales where internet connections have historically been unavailable, is expected to be more reliable than land-based systems that are currently out of service.
One Starlink terminal costs $499. The system was recently used to restore communications in remote villages in Tonga after a volcanic eruption triggered a tsunami, cutting off internet service.
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“Never let a good crisis go to waste!”