Photo: Kyiv Regional State Administration / Facebook
Ukraine uses thousands of Starlink terminals
The use of Starlink with drones is outside the scope of SpaceX’s agreement with the Ukrainian government, according to Elon Musk’s company.
SpaceX, an American businessman’s company, has taken steps to prevent the Ukrainian military from using the Starlink satellite Internet service to control drones during hostilities with Russia. SpaceX President and COO Gwynn Shotwell said this at a press conference in Washington, Reuters reports on Thursday, February 9.
Starlink was “never intended to be used as a weapon,” she said.
Later, in a conversation with reporters, Shotwell referred to reports that the Ukrainian military used Starlink to control drones – detecting enemy positions, firing long-range fire and dropping bombs.
“There are things we can do to limit their ability to do this and are already doing,” she said, referring to the use of Starlink for drone work, declining to elaborate on exactly what measures SpaceX has taken.
The use of Starlink with the drones is outside the scope of SpaceX’s agreement with the Ukrainian government, Shotwell said, adding that the contract is for humanitarian purposes such as providing broadband internet access to hospitals, banks and families affected by the Russian invasion.
“We know that the military uses them for communications, and that’s fine. But we never wanted them to use it offensively,” she said.
Asked if SpaceX anticipated using Starlink for offensive purposes in Ukraine when deciding to bring terminals to conflict zones, Shotwell said: “We didn’t think about it. I didn’t think about it. I don’t know. But we learned pretty quickly.”
Late last year, Starlink in Ukraine experienced service outages for reasons SpaceX did not explain.
Asked if the crashes were related to SpaceX’s efforts to limit offensive use of Starlink, Shotwell said: “I don’t want to answer it because I’m not sure I know the answer.”
As of mid-January, Ukraine received 30,000 Starlink terminals from partners. Poland helped to acquire the last batch.
It was also reported that in February Ukraine will receive 10,000 Starlink terminals from Germany.
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