Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, turned to Twitter shortly after Russia’s invasion started in late February to request that US entrepreneur Elon Musk activate his Starlink satellites for use in Ukraine. “Starlink service is currently operating in Ukraine,” Musk responded quickly through Twitter. “More terminals are on the way.”
A lot of terminals and strong batteries arrived in Ukraine shortly after. Others quickly followed suit. Fedorov expressed his thanks once again on Twitter, writing: “Starlink — here. @elonmusk, thank you.” There were no classified communications, lengthy deliberations, or governmental or legislative oversight: simply a very public contract between a politician whose nation had been invaded and a mysterious billionaire who then challenged the aggressor, Russian President Vladimir Putin, to a “single battle.” What seemed to be a public relations coup is now playing a crucial role in Ukraine’s defense.
According to reports in the British press, Ukraine’s army is using Starlink to launch drone assaults against Russian tanks and positions with great effectiveness. According to the Telegraph, Starlink is especially important for the military in locations where the infrastructure is poor and there is no access to the internet.
The aerial reconnaissance unit Aerorozvidka, according to The Telegraph, is utilizing Starlink to monitor and coordinate unmanned aerial vehicles, allowing troops to fire anti-tank weaponry with pinpoint accuracy. According to The Telegraph, the system’s high data rates are the only way to ensure the system’s communication is reliable.
The technology is explained by an officer of the Aerorozvidka unit to The Times as follows: “We utilize Starlink equipment to connect the drone team with our artillery squad,” he added. “If we utilize a drone with thermal vision at night, the drone must connect to the artillery person through Starlink and establish target acquisition.”
According to the New York Times, the Aerorozvidka crew conducts around 300 information-gathering flights every day. According to the publication, attacks are carried out at night since the drones, some of which are outfitted with infrared cameras, are almost hard to spot in the dark.
There are several conceivable applications
The Starlink satellites are designed to provide internet to underserved areas remote from major cities. It was addressed the possibility of employing satellites to provide information to individuals in areas where the internet is restricted. Few expected it to be used in a European war zone, where one of the aggressor’s first activities was to target and destroy power sources and internet links as soon as the invasion began.
Ukrainians now have – or have recovered – information access. According to The Telegraph, Starlink is one of Ukraine’s most popular app downloads, allowing more than 100,000 individuals to remain informed about the conflict and communicate with the outside world.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine utilizes the Starlink satellites to deliver addresses to the Ukrainian people and national legislatures throughout the globe. Apart from its military use, Starlink has become critical to Ukraine, both in terms of securing international backing and preserving the people’s unbroken resistance.
Is Russia a target?
With Russia attempting to destroy Ukrainian infrastructure, including electricity and the internet, the link will likely become even more critical in the next weeks and months. This, of course, implies that Russian forces will be targeting Starlink reception dishes, which aren’t exactly inconspicuous.
However, the greatest risk is that the receiving equipment might be geolocated while in use. “Turn on Starlink only when required and situate antenna as far away from people as feasible,” Musk tweeted shortly after the first terminals were delivered in early March.
In addition to targeted strikes, Russia seems to be attempting to restrict internet connectivity from space by using jammers. However, SpaceX claims to have a solution: Musk claimed on Twitter that a new software update reduces power consumption and allows for the bypass of jamming transmitters.
Musk’s backing of Ukraine is seen as an act of hostility by the Kremlin. Starlink’s actions were labeled “intervention” by Dmitry Rogozin, the director of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos. Elon Musk emerges with his Starlink, which was previously labeled entirely civilian when Russia executes its greatest national interests on Ukrainian land, he claimed on state-funded Russian network RT. Musk’s retort was as terse as usual. “The civilian Internet in Ukraine has been suffering unusual failures – poor weather perhaps? – therefore SpaceX is assisting in the repair,” he tweeted.