UPDATE: How Elon Musk is Getting Involved With the Ukraine Crisis The SpaceX founder directly responded to a plea from the vice prime minister of Ukraine.
On Saturday, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted that SpaceX's Starlink service was active in Ukraine after Ukrainian vice prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov pleaded with Musk to provide the European country with Starlink stations.
"Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route," Musk tweeted.
Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 26, 2022
Fedorov compared Musk's space ambitions to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, tweeting, "While your rockets successfully land from space — Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people!" He then asked Musk for Starlink stations in order to "address sane Russians to stand."
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Russia's invasion has significantly affected Ukraine's internet connectivity, especially in heavily fought areas like the southern and eastern parts of the country. Internet-monitoring organization NetBlocks told Reuters that connectivity to Ukraine's main internet provider dropped below 20% of normal levels before returning to higher levels last Friday morning. NetBlocks Director Alp Toker told the outlet that the group found national connectivity at 87% of ordinary levels, reflecting service disruptions, population flight and the shuttering of homes and businesses.
It's unclear how effective Starlink's satellites will be. According to the Verge, Starlink "requires near-perfect line of sight to its satellites, which are often fairly low in the sky," noting that trees, buildings and even poles can easily obstruct signal.
However, the internet has been a crucial avenue for Ukraine to connect with people beyond its borders. Ordinary people have been using social media platforms like TikTok to report on events happening in the country, while speeches from government officials like Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky have gone viral.
.@ZelenskyyUa's tv address to the Russian (!) people might be the most moving speech that I've ever seen in my entire life. The whole world needs to see, understand and share this crucial Ukrainian message.#StandWithUkraine #Ukraine #Україна #Russia #Россия pic.twitter.com/WoMOgqXTWX— Patrick Moelleken (@PMoelleken) February 24, 2022
Ukraine hasn't suffered a nationwide blackout yet, though the ongoing conflict brings worry of potential internet outages.
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March 1 - A tweet from Fedorov on Monday evening gave photographic evidence that the SpaceX CEO kept true to his promise of sending Starlink terminals.
Starlink — here. Thanks, @elonmusk pic.twitter.com/dZbaYqWYCf— Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) February 28, 2022
"You are most welcome," Musk responded.
Musk hasn't shared how he was able to get the terminals into Ukraine, or how quickly the Starlink terminals will be operational. The SpaceX CEO seems to be secretive about the event — in an interview with SpaceNews, Musk said, "I wish I could say more."