By Hyunjoo Jin
SANFRANCISCO – SpaceX billionaire Elon Musk said on Saturday that the company’s Starlink satellite broadband service is available in Ukraine and SpaceX is sending more terminals to the country, whose internet has been disrupted due to the Russian invasion.
“Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route,” Musk tweeted.
He was responding to a tweet by a Ukraine government official who asked Musk to provide the embattled country with Starlink stations.
“@elonmusk, while you try to colonize Mars — Russia try to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets successfully land from space — Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people!” Ukraine’s vice prime minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, tweeted.
Internet connectivity in Ukraine has been affected by the Russian invasion, particularly in the southern and eastern parts of the country where fighting has been heaviest, internet monitors said on Saturday.
While extremely costly to deploy, satellite technology can provide internet for people who live in rural or hard-to-serve places where fiber optic cables and cell towers do not reach. The technology can also be a critical backstop when hurricanes or other natural disasters disrupt communication.
Musk said on Jan. 15 that SpaceX had 1,469 Starlink satellites active and 272 moving to operational orbits soon.