SpaceX Delivers 5,000 Starlink Terminals to Ukraine

by TK Sanders
spacex-delivers-5000-starlink-terminals-ukraine
. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Interstellar communications company SpaceX recently partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to deliver 5,000 Starlink terminals to Ukraine. USAID said the terminals provide Ukraine with “unlimited, un-throttled data connectivity,” keeping communications open for the government and citizens alike.

At a glance

  • Elon Musk’s satellite internet and exploration company SpaceX ensured continued internet for Ukraine despite loss of infrastructure
  • Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister specifically requested the aid
  • SpaceX donated time and resources to another humanitarian cause earlier this year in Tonga

SpaceX’s Starlink provides affordable, low-latency internet service to remote locations around the world. The company offers the service via its clusters of satellites in low Earth orbit. SpaceX launches new satellites into orbit every week or two in order to continue building the network.

A few weeks ago, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov tweeted at SpaceX CEO Elon Musk publicly asking for support in the form of satellite internet aid. Musk apparently delivered, ensuring long-term connectivity for the war-torn country, “even if Putin’s brutal aggression severs Ukraine’s fiber-optic or cellular communication infrastructure connections,” according to Space.com.“The Hunga Tonga volcano’s shockwave shattered Tonga’s internet connection, adding days of gut-wrenching uncertainty to disaster assessments. A @SpaceX team is now in Fiji establishing a Starlink Gateway station to reconnect Tonga to the world. Great initiative, @elonmusk!” the tweet

New York Times space news reporter Joey Roulette tweeted Wednesday that SpaceX donated the majority of the terminals — 3,667, to be exact — at a cost of roughly $10 million. In addition to the Starlink terminals, SpaceX also absorbed the associated cost of operations. The USAID purchased the remaining 1,333 terminals according to reports.

USAID amended its original press release which specified the number of donated terminals; the new release just refers to 5,000 terminals donated by a “public-private” partnership. Roulette also suggested in a separate report that France and Poland made contributions to the Starlink shipments, as well.

In a stunning logistical accomplishment, SpaceX delivered its first shipment of Starlink terminals just two days after Fedorov first requested the aid on February 26. Follow-up reports suggest that SpaceX anticipated the call to duty weeks before as rumors began flying about a potential invasion from Russia. If so, then SpaceX just needed permission to enter the country.

SpaceX reached out to another country in need a few months ago

SpaceX has participated in humanitarian missions prior to becoming involved with Ukraine. Musk’s company also sent Starlink terminals to the Pacific island nation of Tonga after a volcanic eruption disabled communication services back in January.

Tonga possessed a single optic-fiber link to the internet, which the volcanic eruption severed on January 15. Fiji Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum outlined Musk’s involvement in a February 6 tweet.

“The Hunga Tonga volcano’s shockwave shattered Tonga’s internet connection, adding days of gut-wrenching uncertainty to disaster assessments. A SpaceX team is now in Fiji establishing a Starlink Gateway [terminal] station to reconnect Tonga to the world. Great initiative, Elon Musk!” the tweet read.

Outsider.com