Elon Musk’s SpaceX Mars Rocket Reportedly Being Delayed Thanks to Russian Cyber Attacks in Ukraine

by Victoria Santiago

Elon Musk says that other SpaceX operations, like the Starship rocket, will be delayed due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The SpaceX CEO was quick to send over free Starlink devices to Ukraine in their time of need. The devices would make sure that Ukrainians have access to the internet after Russia began its invasion.

Now, the Starlink devices are being targeted by Russian cyber attacks. Since this is a serious issue, it has become a priority for the private space company.

At a Glance

  • SpaceX devices near conflict areas in Ukraine have been jammed.
  • The space company is reprioritizing their resources to solve this.
  • Other projects will experience delays, like Musk’s Mars rocket.
  • According to Musk, Starlink has been the only non-Russian internet service operating in the country.

Elon Musk Expects ‘Slight’ Delays For SpaceX Projects

Elon Musk originally sent over SpaceX Starlink equipment at the end of February. Since then, those devices have become a target for Russian cyber attacks. Elon Musk was aware that this could potentially happen.

He shared the unfortunate news on Twitter. He said that some Starlink terminals near conflict areas in Ukraine had been experiencing signal jamming for several hours at a time. Thus, they had to reroute extra resources to solving this.

As a result, the first flight of the Starship rocket has been delayed. Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket has been waiting for its first test launch. Other projects have been delayed as well. These delays are expected to only be “slight.”

At this time, it’s unclear how many Starlink devices are active in the country. No one has revealed just how many Elon Musk sent over. However, a photo shared by Ukraine’s digital transformation minister suggests that the first shipment contained dozens of devices.

The Nature Of These Cyber Attacks

The SpaceX CEO has been expecting these attacks for quite some time. In fact, he even told Ukrainian users to do their best to hide their Starlink devices and only use the internet when absolutely necessary.

Musk chose not to share the details of Ukraine‘s internet service issues. He also did not say what kind of cyber attacks the devices were exposed to.

However, based on what he did share, we can guess. According to experts, signal jamming can be a sign of a denial-of-service (DoS) cyber attack. A DoS attack is done by flooding a target network with traffic. Eventually, the network will no longer be able to respond and will crash. Then, access will be blocked for people actually trying to use the service.

A DoS attack makes the most sense. Starlink’s internet service is satellite-based. Thus, Russians would not be able to shut it down unless they hacked it or otherwise disrupted the service.

A Viasat satellite was hacked on the day that Russia invaded Ukraine, according to Observer. As a result, there was signal loss across Europe. A similar attack could be happening to Starlink now.