After Tonga’s communications infrastructure was devastated in last month’s volcano eruption, Dr. Shane Reti says he is “extremely thrilled” that Elon Musk is gifting the nation with a satellite.
In January, the National Party MP made an emotional appeal to the world’s wealthiest man, pleading with him to assist in bringing Tonga back online.
After the undersea volcano, Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai erupted on January 15, Tonga’s communication was mostly cut off from the rest of the globe. The eruption caused significant devastation as well as a 1.2-meter tsunami that swamped Nuku’alofa, the capital.
The natural calamity wrecked an undersea telephone line, cutting the island off for days.
Engineers from SpaceX, which Musk also controls, are now in Fiji to assist with the restoration of Tonga’s internet. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Fiji’s Minister for Communications, informed local news site FBC News that the SpaceX crew would set up and maintain a temporary ground station for six months until the work is completed.
“On January 20, the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation [SpaceX] filed for a temporary emergency telecommunications license with the express intention of providing an internet gateway,” Sayed-Khaiyum told FBC News.
“However, Space X and FINTEL are engaged in commercial talks to co-locate the earth station and link to Fiji’s internet gateway,” says the statement.
On social media, Dr. Reti discussed his triumph in persuading Musk to provide Tonga internet access.
“You will not know until you ask. I am overjoyed for the Pacific “He commented on this on Facebook, along with a link to the FBC story.
Dr. Reti submitted a plea to Musk, who owns Starlink, a worldwide supplier of high-speed broadband internet when he first learned that Tonga’s internet had been cut off as a result of the eruption. As they circle the Earth, Starlink utilizes roughly 1700 satellites to provide internet connectivity to distant regions.
“I think Elon Musk can only answer no,” Reti posted on Twitter. “If you do not ask, you do not know.”
“I quickly addressed a letter to Elon to ask if he would contribute Starlink to the emergency when the Minister informed me over the phone on Monday that the telecommunications connection to Tonga was down.”
Musk, whose net worth is just around $400 billion, was asked in the letter whether he could envision a method to provide “immediate Starlink communications to governmental leaders and the noble people of Tonga in this time of need.”
Musk responded to a tweet from Whole Mars, who shared Reti’s letter, saying it would be “a difficult thing for us to accomplish right now.”
“We do not have enough satellites with laser connectivity, and the Tonga area is already served by geo satellites. That is why I am requesting unequivocal confirmation.”
Musk had previously reacted to a tweet from the news agency Reuters, which said that Tonga will be without an internet connection for at least a month.
“Could someone from Tonga tell us whether it is vital for SpaceX to bring over Starlink terminals?” Musk answered. Reti responded by tweeting: “This would be beneficial to Tonga. Could the community kindly respond to @elonmusk?”
“Like I said, if you do not ask, you do not know, and he can only say no,” Reti told Newshub at the time.