How Elon Musk Could Save The Internet In Ukraine And The International Space Station From Russia

In an unexpected turn of events, one public figure who became surprisingly intertwined with the fast-moving narrative surrounding the Russian invasion of Ukraine was Tesla and SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk.

But why did the billionaire entrepreneur make headlines over the weekend in the early days of the Russian assault of Ukraine? Here’s everything you need to know.

Ukraine government asks for help

On Saturday February 26, Mykhailo Fedorov, the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine and the Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, sent out a tweet asking the tech billionaire for assistance.

“[Elon Musk], while you try to colonize Mars — Russia try to occupy Ukraine!” Fedorov tweeted. “While your rockets successfully land from space — Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people! We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations and to address sane Russians to stand.”

The official Twitter account of Ukraine shared this request.

“Dear [Elon Musk],” the tweet read. “Ukraine needs your support. Your stance and your actions matter.”

Elon Musk responds

In a tweet that quickly went viral, Musk responded to Federov’s request.

“Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route,” Musk tweeted.

Fedorov thanked Musk, tweeting, “Starlink terminals are coming to Ukraine! Thank you [Elon Musk], thank you everyone, who supported Ukraine!”

What is Starlink?

Starlink is operated by Musk’s SpaceX, and is working to launch and operate a collection of satellites to provide internet access across the globe.

“Starlink provides high-speed, low-latency broadband internet across the globe. Within each coverage area, orders are fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis,” the company says. “Using advanced satellites in a low orbit, Starlink enables video calls, online gaming, streaming, and other high data rate activities that historically have not been possible with satellite internet.”

“Starlink is ideally suited for areas where connectivity has been unreliable or completely unavailable,” the company added. “People across the globe are using Starlink to gain access to education, health services and even communications support during natural disasters.”

Will it help?

While Musk’s response was widely celebrated, it still remains somewhat unclear what the active Starlink service means for the under-fire country of Ukraine. 

According to a senior U.S. defense official, while there have been “intermittent” power outages in Ukraine, the internet is still “generally available.”

Some even went as far as criticizing the announcement as a “marketing” ploy.

“Guys, use some critical thinking before you praise this,” tweeted Rebellion PAC executive director, Brianna Wu. “A. Starlink doesn’t work. B. Do you really think you can get a satellite service installation and modem in the middle of a war? If this did anything, I’d praise it. It’s marketing.”

As The Verge argued, a Starlink dish requires a “near-perfect” line of sight with the constellation network, which would mean that internet connectivity could be difficult to achieve in an urban environment under heavy rocket fire. The Starlink service would also require the distribution of “terminals,” which would be difficult to deliver given the ongoing invasion.

However, according to other reports, internet unreliability is a real concern for many in the country, especially for those who rely on the internet for communication and resistance efforts. This means that any additional service could be hugely impactful.

What else is Elon Musk doing?

In addition to weighing in on the battle for internet connectivity, Musk also appeared to state that SpaceX could prevent Russian endangerment of the International Space Station (ISS).

In a series of tweets, the head of Russia’s space agency said that the ISS might fall out of orbit without Russian support. 

“If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled de-orbit and fall into the United States or Europe?” Rogozin tweeted in Russian, according to a translation. “There is also the option of dropping a 500-ton structure to India and China. Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect? The ISS does not fly over Russia, so all the risks are yours.”

Musk replied with an image of the SpaceX logo.

Musk later confirmed that SpaceX would help save the ISS.

Ian Haworth is a writer for The Daily Wire and contributor to Morning Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.

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