Elon Musk Deploys Starlink Satellite Terminals in Ukriane

Elon Musk sent a shipment of Starlink terminals to Ukraine after the country’s digital transformation minister asked the SpaceX CEO for help.

“Starlink — here. Thanks, @elonmusk,” Ukrainian minister Mykhailo Fedorov tweeted with an image of the back of a lorry loaded with terminals.

Musk tweeted back, “You are most welcome”.

The terminals look like home satellite television dishes and can provide fast internet service  by connecting to a fleet of satellites in low orbit.

However, John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab project took to Twitter to warn that the terminals could become Russia’s new targets.

“Re: @elonmusk’s starlink donation. Good to see. But remember: if #Putin controls the air above Ukraine, users’ uplink transmissions become beacons for airstrikes,” he tweeted.

“Russia has decades of experience hitting people by targeting their satellite communications,” he also tweeted.

The risk is that satellite transmissions from the ground in Ukraine could be triangulated and targeted by the Russian military, which has previously used the technique to deadly effect in Chechnya and Syria, Scott-Railton said.

Musk said on Saturday that SpaceX is sending more terminals to the country whose internet has been disrupted due to the recent Russian invasion.

A consultant in satellite communications Tim Farrar, said one of the challenges is to install end-user terminals, which require a clear view of the sky to connect to Starlink.

The fact that one has to go to the top of the highest building to set up the antenna poses a significant risk.

“It is not going to be something that can offer a replacement for terrestrial internet on a large scale,” Tim Farrar said.

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