How does Elon Musk’s Starlink work, and can it keep Ukraine online during the Russian invasion?

ELON Musk has supported Ukraine by providing internet from his corps of satellites.

With communications on the ground at risk of Russian invasion, the country’s deputy prime minister begged the billionaire to provide vital assistance through his Starlink service.

Elon Musk has activated Starlink on Ukraine


Elon Musk has activated Starlink on UkraineCredit: Reuters

“While you try to colonize Mars – Russia tries to take Ukraine!” Mykhailo Fedorov said on Twitter.

“While your rocket successfully landed from space – Russian rockets hit the people of Ukraine!

“We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations and solve problems for ordinary Russians.”

The SpaceX founder was quick to respond, saying that the service is “currently live” in Ukraine, with “more terminals in the works”.

So how does Starlink work and can it keep Ukrainian communications going?

Starlink is a growing constellation of internet satellites run by Elon Musk’s company SpaceX.

Instead of using cables on the ground, it transmits the internet to users from the sky.

It’s designed to help people who live in really remote places where traditional broadband is too slow or completely unavailable.

SpaceX regularly blasts more satellites into Low Earth Orbit — about 300 miles above the surface — to increase coverage.

It plans to eventually have about 40,000 satellites in space, although the move has been met with concerns that it could block the sky and trap us on the earth.

Availability has gradually rolled out in a number of countries, including the US and UK.

Satellite internet is nothing new, but Musk’s technology and mass make it possible to deliver speeds of up to 150Mbps.

Like the Sky TV box, you need a satellite dish on the ground to receive an internet signal.

Starlink is not cheap.

For the hardware alone, it will cost you £439 / US$499 plus £56 / $50 for delivery.

After that, the monthly subscription costs £89/$99 a month.

With thousands of satellites already in place, Starlink can handle so many people at once, but it would probably struggle if it suddenly had to serve a country with a population of more than 44 million.

So far, globally, the service has only about 145,000 users.

As it became more popular globally, existing users have complained that the result is slow connection speed.

So can you imagine how bad it would be if millions of people tried to access it all at once?

Plus, the Ukrainians would need a vital satellite dish on the ground to keep the signal in the first place.

So Starlink is a good savior for these important issues but unfortunately won’t be able to keep everyone in the country online at the same time.

What is Starlink?

Starlink is a satellite project launched by billionaire SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in 2015.

Musk plans to put 12,000 satellites into Earth’s orbit over the next decade, which could grow to 42,000 in the future.

According to SpaceX, the “supermassive constellation” will eventually be able to reach every corner of the planet.

The California company says its network will provide users with high-speed, low-latency internet coverage.

Latency is the time it takes to send data from one point to the next.

Because Starlink sats 60 times closer to Earth than most satellites, SpaceX’s WiFi latency is lower than that of traditional satellite internet.

The company sends its satellites in batches of 60 at a time and has deployed more than 1,400 satellites into orbit since 2019.

They were launched from Cape Carnaveral in Florida atop a Falcon 9 unmanned rocket, also built by SpaceX.

The effect of low-orbit technology on views of the night sky is of great concern, as they appear brighter than many stars and planets.

Astronomers and amateur stargazers have repeatedly let SpaceX sabotage their observations.

The company argues that its satellites are only bright for a short time after launch because they are in low orbit.

Over the course of several weeks, the satellites moved further away from Earth, seemingly reducing their effect on space observations.

Scientists have complained that the Starlink satellite is blocking the sky


Scientists have complained that the Starlink satellite is blocking the skyCredit: AFP

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