Elon Musk Deploys SpaceX Starlink Satellites to Keep Ukraine's Internet Online
Network will stop Russia taking Ukrainian Internet down during invasion
Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk has deployed his company SpaceX's Starlink satellite network to ensure Ukraine can still access the Internet as Russia attacks the country's infrastructure during the invasion.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his forces to destroy the Internet network in Ukraine to stop locals, media, and government officials from communicating with the outside world during the attacks.
Musk answered a plea from Ukraine's vice prime minister who asked to help keep the country online with his satellite network.
"@elonmusk, while you try to colonize Mars — Russia try to occupy Ukraine!" Vice PM Mykhailo Fedorov wrote in a tweet on Saturday.
"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."
His plea came as part of Ukraine finds itself without any internet connection following three days of rocket attacks by Russia.
Officials there are keen that locals remain connected so their stories can be used to combat Russian propaganda - and so that they can share atrocities being carried out by Russian troops on behalf of Vladimir Putin.
On Saturday afternoon, Musk answered the call and said that he would be sending Starlink receivers to the country.
"Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route," Musk tweeted hours after the extraordinary request.
Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 26, 2022
Starlink is a space-based system that SpaceX has been building for years to bring internet access to underserved areas of the world.
Also on Saturday, Fedorov called on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Netflix, and Google to block Russia-related accounts.
"We've also asked @Netflix for the support," he tweeted.
"We appealed to them to block the Russian Federation's access to Netflix and shut off Russian content. We believe you do care.
"Let's stop this disgraceful bloody war!"
While Ukraine continues to ensure attacks from the air and assaults from the ground by Russian forces, the county has also been subjected to cyber-attacks.
Ukraine's Foreign Ministry, Cabinet of Ministers, and Parliament website were all appeared offline for several hours on Wednesday following a cyberattack that also affected some of the banks in the country.
The following day, Russia's assault on its Western neighbor began Thursday after Putin declared war and announced a "special military operation" to demilitarize and "denazify" Ukraine under the pretense that Russia was defending itself.
On Sunday morning, two Ukrainian cities were rocked by Russian blasts in the early hours as Vladimir Putin stepped up his invasion after it was claimed he has been infuriated by his army's lack of progress.
Local newspaper The Kyiv Independent wrote that an oil depot had been blown up at Vasylkiv, a city which sits around 40 kilometers southwest of Kyiv, close to a key airport.
A gas pipeline was also blown up in Kharkiv, a city in eastern Ukraine that sits close to the Russian border.
Video footage showed a mushroom cloud filling the city's sky as the fuel line was destroyed, with a group of people who filmed the clip heard exclaiming with shock as the ball of flames erupted into the sky.
Ukrainian TV station Nexta shared footage of flames and black clouds billowing into the sky at the site of the Vasylkiv attack as the fuel burned.
Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX has close to 2,000 Starlink satellites orbiting Earth at an altitude of 340 miles.
Last week, Musk's satellite venture launched a free high-speed internet service to connect remote villages in Tonga that were cut off since a devastating volcanic eruption and tsunami in January, so it is not completely out of the realm of possibility that something similar might be set up quickly for the Ukrainian people.
The satellites allow for large amounts of information to be beamed quickly to any point on Earth without the need for fiber-optic cables.
"In 2022 modern technologies are one of the best response to tanks, rockets and missiles," Fedorov wrote in another Twitter posting on Saturday.
"I've addressed to the biggest tech giants to support the sanctions for Russian Federation.
"We asked them to help us stop this outrageous aggression on our people!"
As of February 27, a total of 2,142 Starlink satellites have been launched since the first couple in February 2018, although many of this total have failed or been decommissioned in space.
SpaceX has even grander plans for its Starlink project and has already requested authorization for a second-generation mega constellation, made up of 30,000 satellites.