Artificial IntelligenceCryptocurrencyMetaverseCybersecurityTech Forward

Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite dishes arrive in Ukraine, a day after the SpaceX CEO tweeted the tech was on the way

March 1, 2022, 7:09 AM UTC

Hours after Elon Musk promised Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov that he would help the government connect to SpaceX’s satellite-based internet network by sending Starlink terminals into the war zone, Musk appears to have delivered.

Late on Monday evening Fedorov tweeted a photo of an army truck, seemingly loaded with base stations for SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service, along with a simple message: “Starlink—here. Thanks, @elonmusk.”

It was only Saturday when Fedorov first reached out to Musk via Twitter, to implore the SpaceX founder to expand Starlink coverage to Ukraine as the country defended against a Russian invasion. The next day, Musk, who’s also CEO of Tesla, replied to Fedorov’s tweet and announced that the Starlink network was now active in Ukraine, saying “more terminals [are now] en route.”

The terminals are satellite dishes, which Starlink users need to communicate with the company’s constellation of low-earth-orbit satellites. Starlink provides an internet service by transmitting signals from ground towers into space, bouncing them off the satellites, and intercepting the returning signal via satellite dish.

On Sunday, Fedorov then sent another tweet to thank Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S. for facilitating “swift decisions related to authorization and certification that allowed us to activate the Starlink in Ukraine.”

The tweet suggests Starlink wasn’t available before due to administrative roadblocks, rather than technical ones.

Fedorov’s tweet also doesn’t make clear which city had received the dishes. It’s possible the uplink terminals are joining Ukraine’s government in Kyiv, despite Russian troops reportedly surrounding the city. One Twitter user—a civilian engineer whose bio says he is in Kyiv—claims to have received a Starlink dish already and says it is up and running.

It’s not clear how SpaceX managed to transport its Starlink terminals to Ukraine in such a short time frame, and while the recipient country is fighting a war. SpaceX didn’t respond to requests for comment. The company possibly flew the satellite dishes to Europe, direct from their production site in California, and worked with Ukraine officials to transport the goods across the border.

While many online have applauded Musk’s swift response to Fedorov’s plea, at least one person issued a word of warning: John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab institute. In a Twitter thread, Scott-Railton warned that Russia could intercept uplink signals transmitted by Starlink satellite dishes, triangulate the dish’s location, and use the information to coordinate missile strikes.

Never miss a story: Follow your favorite topics and authors to get a personalized email with the journalism that matters most to you.