Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, announced over that the weekend that company's Starlink satellites are now operational in Ukraine, addressing some of the country's connectivity issues as a result of Russia's invasion.
On Saturday morning, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov appealed to Musk via Twitter:
@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.
Musk answered 10 hours later, saying Starlink is now operational in the eastern European country and that more terminals are on the way. Starlink is a network of around 2,000 low-earth-orbit satellites that connect to user terminals all over the world to provide high-speed broadband internet.
Starlink can be quickly installed in hard-to-reach places and crisis circumstances since it is not constrained by existing internet infrastructure. When asked when or how many user terminals would be sent to Ukraine, SpaceX did not immediately respond.
According to internet monitor NetBlocks, internet access has been disrupted in various locations across Ukraine, including Kyiv, Mariupol, Kharkiv, and Kherson.
Russian hackers launched cyberattacks against the Ukrainian government and crucial infrastructure as Russian military crossed the border into Ukraine and shelled cities on Thursday morning.
The satellite-based service offers an alternative to land-based systems, which can be difficult to establish in remote places or are otherwise susceptible to military or natural catastrophe disruption.
This is the second time this year that Musk was called upon to help countries get back online.
A Starlink Launch of Dozens of Satellites in 2021
In January, Musk's satellite company provided a free high-speed internet connection in Tonga, which has been shut off since a deadly volcanic explosion and tsunami in January. The outlying islands hardest devastated by the tsunami would receive 50 VSAT terminals provided free of charge by Musk's SpaceX. The service will be available for free until an underwater cable connecting Tonga's main island Tongatapu and the outlying islands is fixed.
Last week, the international cable between Tonga and Fiji was re-established after a 92-kilometer segment was replaced. Tonga Cable said the domestic cable was closer to the volcano explosion and will take up to nine months to fix.
Starlink picked up the pace in 2021 after years of development within SpaceX and after receiving nearly $885.5 million in grant funds from the Federal Communications Commission at the end of 2020. After three years of successful launches, the project reached 1,000 satellites deployed into orbit in January. Starlink now has approximately 2,000 operational satellites circling overhead after decades of successful launches.
How Satellite Internet Works
You can use satellite internet to connect your gadgets (such as a PC) to the internet. Your computer sends a signal to your router, which is then forwarded to your modem, which is then forwarded to a specialized internet satellite dish on your roof. The signal is sent from the satellite dish to an orbiting satellite in space, which then relays it to your internet provider (ISP). The provider delivers a signal through the satellite to your dish, which then goes to your home computer. This form of connection is completely wireless to your home, so you won't need any copper or phone lines to make it work.
Simply said, satellite internet is a feasible option for connecting your home, farm, or company to the internet.
Pros and Cons of Satellite Internet
Satellite Internet Pros
- Satellite internet can reach some of the most difficult-to-reach locations, where cables and cell towers can't.
- Your internet connection should stay unaffected in the case of an emergency, such as an earthquake. Even if the cabled and cellular networks are damaged or overburdened.
- Satellite dishes and modems can be solar powered, allowing you to use the internet even if there is a power outage.
- Satellite internet does not require the construction of a tower or the burying of cables, resulting in minimal environmental impact (or your neighbours). As a result, installation is simple and environmentally friendly.
Satellite Internet Cons
- Slightly more expensive than metropolitan internet connections.
- Not as fast as Fibre or VDSL connections.