The SpaceX Starlink satellite internet system has been in the spotlight from the first days of the invasion of Russian troops into the territory of Ukraine. With the help of Starlink Ukraine stayed connected with the world and continued to receive critical intelligence data. Satellite internet also helped civilians connect with family and loved ones when ground-based connectivity was destroyed by enemy troops.
At Groundstation.space we have been following the activities of Starlink throughout the war. See some of our previous stories here:
Testing Starlink at 130 km/h
This summer, the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine tested Starlink by placing the equipment on the roof of a moving car. As explained by the ministry, ‘Elon Musk’s team doesn’t recommend using terminals while driving. But in this video, we will prove that it is possible. And we will show how it works’.
A video describing the testing process was posted on the ministry’s YouTube channel. You can watch it in English by turning on subtitles in the video settings.
The test showed that Starlink antennas can be used on moving vehicles. The results of the test were submitted to SpaceX for further study, ministry officials said.
You can see all results of the test here. The report is available in Ukrainian and English.
Later, the Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, Mykhailo Fedorov, stated that satellite Internet from Starlink is now being tested on trains.
This October, the Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov reported that 150 Starlink terminals handed over to Ukraine by the Polish Government have already been put to use in the Kharkiv region:
‘These terminals help restore communication in the de-occupied territories, where the occupiers damaged mobile towers and optical cables.
While mobile operators and Internet providers are rebuilding the basic telecom infrastructure, Starlink allows us to establish a backup connection.
For example, in twelve de-occupied villages and towns in the Kharkiv region, people were able to call their relatives for the first time since they were liberated, thanks to Starlink.
The terminals were also received by the local government, in 24 city and village councils in the Kharkiv region. This will support the effective coordination of the restoration of the territory liberated from the Russians.
Three public wi-fi points from Starlink are working now in Izyum and one in the village of Dibrova’
Interruptions to Starlink communication
In mid-October, the Ukrainian armed forces reported disruptions to Starlink communication devices on the front lines, making it difficult for the Ukrainian military to liberate territories.
Later, it became known that SpaceX had turned to the Pentagon with a request to take over payments for satellite internet services they provide in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov assured that ‘Starlink terminals worked, work and will work’
For several days, the fate of Starlink in Ukraine remained uncertain, until Elon Musk announced that funding for satellite internet in support of the Ukrainian government would continue.
According to Elon Musk, the terminals cost SpaceX about $20 million a month.
Trust, but verify
At the Web Summit, earlier this November, Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov stated that ‘Ukraine trusts Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite communications system, but hopes to find additional internet providers’.
Later, Reuters released news stating that ‘Ukraine will ask its foreign partners for help in funding Starlink satellite internet systems currently being provided for free by SpaceX, if the company begins to demand payment’.
Support Ukraine from Space
We continue to share news and articles about the use of satellite data in Ukraine. Please let us know if you would like us to write about any space-related project in support of the people of Ukraine:
Featured image: a screenshot of Newsy video
Author: Vincent Veritas
Edited: Remco Timmermans