What just happened SpaceX’s close relationship with Ukraine could be strained after the company restricted the country’s ability to use the Starlink satellite service for offensive military purposes. The move follows reports that Ukraine used Starlink to control drones.
SpaceX has shipped more than 25,000 Starlink terminals to Ukraine and serviced them since the war began, helping to keep the country’s critical infrastructure and its citizens online as Russia continues its assault.
But Ukraine reportedly used Starlink in its offensive push against the Russian military, including to target enemies with drones, in violation of SpaceX policies.
Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, told a conference in Washington, DC on Wednesday (via Reuters) that Starlink should never be used as a weapon.
“However, the Ukrainians used it in a way that was unintentional and not part of any agreement,” she said, referring to reports that Starlink was used to control the Ukrainian drones. “There are things we can do to limit their ability to do that. [controlling the drones]’ she said, ‘there are things we can do and have done.’
One year 🇺🇦 Resistance & companies must decide:
-Either they side with the 🇺🇦 & the right to freedom, and don’t look for ways to do harm.
– Or they are on the side of RF and their “right” to kill and occupy territories.#SpaceX (Starlink) and Ms. #Shotwell should choose a specific option
— Ми…айло По’оляк (@Podolyak_M) February 9, 2023
Shotwell never disclosed what steps SpaceX took to prevent Ukraine from using Starlink for military attacks. She pointed out that the service could be used for military communications but was never intended for offensive purposes.
In October, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the company could not fund Starlink in Ukraine indefinitely, despite other governments sharing the cost of equipment and maintenance. The company estimated costs could reach nearly $380 million over the next 12 months and wanted the US government to pay for the additional terminals and ongoing service costs.
SpaceX doesn’t require it to recover past expenses, but neither can it indefinitely fund the existing system *and* release several thousand additional terminals that have up to 100 times the data usage of typical households. It is unreasonable.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 14, 2022
It was only a few days before Musk backed down and promised that SpaceX would be to fund Ukraine “indefinitely,” although the billionaire recently tweeted that any course of action toward Ukraine would draw criticism: “Damn if you do, damn if you don’t,” he said. -he writes.
To hell with that… even if Starlink continues to lose money and other companies receive billions of taxpayer dollars, we will just continue to fund the Ukrainian government for free.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 15, 2022
“SpaceX Starlink has become the backbone of Ukraine’s connectivity to the front lines. That’s the damn part,” Musk wrote in a separate tweet. “However, we don’t allow Starlink to be used for long-range drone strikes. It’s the fucking thing if you don’t break.
Russia warned last year that SpaceX satellites could become a “legitimate target”. The country attempted to jam Starlink signals in Ukraine, which Musk says led the company to improve the security of the service’s software.
Musk was previously embroiled in a war of words with the former head of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, leading to a tweet from the Tesla boss about his death under mysterious circumstances.
#SpaceX #blocks #Ukraine #Starlink #service #control #drones
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