Starlink has become an “unexpected lifeline” for Ukraine, says Politico. Elon Musk’s communication system – made up of a cluster of table-sized satellites flying as low as 130 miles above the country, and backpack-sized satellite stations on the ground – has thwarted Russia’s efforts to cut Ukraine off from the outside world. With Starlink’s high-speed internet access and encrypted phone network, troops can call in artillery strikes on Russian positions, civilians can stay in touch with loved ones, and Volodymyr Zelensky can keep his social media updates and Zoom calls with world leaders going.
Two days after the invasion, Ukraine’s vice prime minister tweeted at Musk asking him to send Starlink equipment to the country. The billionaire swung into action, and a few days later there were nearly 500 ground terminals up and running in Ukraine. Now there are more than 11,000. Starlink has proved stubbornly resistant to Russian hackers. Traditional “high-orbit” satellites can be targeted individually, but Starlink operates via satellites “working in a constellation” – a setup that’s “more difficult, if not impossible, to take offline”. Musk may end up securing extra business because of his efforts: Starlink’s impressive performance in this “trial-by-fire” has “whetted the appetite of many Western militaries”.