For more than two months we have been reporting on the news and applications of space data during the war. One of the topics is the work of SpaceX’s Starlink in Ukraine. This article is the third in our series.
Starlink in Ukraine. What happened so far?
- On February 26 the Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, Mykhailo Fedorov, asked Elon Musk on Twitter “to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations..”
- Gwynne Shotwell, president and COO of SpaceX, said that the company had been working for weeks to secure approval for Starlink services in Ukraine. The Minister’s tweet became this de facto permission.
- On March 5, the first Starlink terminals arrived in the Ukrainian capital.
- Elon Musk’s Twitter opponent, director of Russian space agency Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin, reacted emotionally to the cooperation of SpaceX with the Ukrainian government.
- Despite rumours that Starlink would be open to anyone, the Ukrainian authorities repeatedly emphasised that the satellite internet system only works at strategic facilities, within a short range of the Starlink terminals.
- Starlink has become the most downloaded application in Ukraine.
- The Ukrainian army uses Starlink internet to help target Russian military equipment: “If we use a drone with thermal vision at night, the drone must connect through Starlink to the artillery guy and create target acquisition.” an officer from the Aerorozvidka unit told The Times.
- Thanks to Starlink, communication was restored in the Kyiv region.
- John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the Citizen Lab, an academic laboratory at the Munch School of Global Relations and Public Policy at the University of Toronto, warns that Starlink carries risks because the signal from satellite dishes can be tracked by the Russian military.
- The Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine announced that “after the victory, together with Elon Musk, we plan to build our Starlink ground station to improve the quality of satellite internet for all Ukrainians.”
Starlink in Ukraine reached 150,000 daily active users
At the end of April, the Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, Mykhailo Fedorov, announced that prompt measures were being taken to fully legalise the use of Starlink technology in Ukraine. This legislation will allow the use of the Starlink system by all categories of users.
Last week, the Ukrainian Centre for Strategic Communication shared the conditions and instructions for connecting Starlink on its Instagram timeline, from purchasing equipment to setting it up.
Earlier this week, Mykhailo Fedorov announced that Starlink in Ukraine now has more than 150,000 daily active users.
Also, the minister emphasises the uniqueness of the Ukrainian experience of using satellite internet from Elon Musk: “There are villages where 10 kilometres of cable were damaged by shelling. Thanks to one Starlink station, the provider was able to quickly restore access to the Internet. This is a unique experience of using Starlink, never seen before in the world”.
At the same time, in Kherson, occupied by Russian troops, the internet and mobile communications were turned off, with the Russians taking control over telephone and Internet networks. It is expected that residents of the city will be connected to Russian operators soon. Obviously, we can’t immediately verify the possibilities of using Starlink satellite internet in the territory occupied by Russian troops.
Starlink Ukraine LLC
At the end of April, ‘Starlink Ukraine’, a representative office of SpaceX, was registered in Ukraine. According to the Ukrainian edition of “Obozrevatel” (Observer), this office will help provide services to Ukrainian users.
More than just internet. How Starlink is making history
British journalist, author and TV producer David Patrikarakos believes Starlink has changed the war in Ukraine’s favour. The author of ‘War in 140 Characters: How Social Media Is Reshaping Conflict in the Twenty-First Century’, launched a Twitter thread where he analyses the use of modern media during the war in Ukraine.
Mentioning Starlink, David Patrikarakos notes that Russia went out of its way to destroy all communications: “Now they can’t. Starlink works under Katyusha [multiple rocket launcher] fires, under artillery fire. It even works in Mariupol”.
Stand with Ukraine
At Groundstation.space, we continue to share news and insights about the use of satellite data technologies during the war in Ukraine. Visit our dedicated page to find out more!