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SpaceX’s Starlink network of internet satellites in Earth orbit continues to make its case during real-world crises, this time with the delivery of more hardware to Ukraine.
Mykhailo Fedorov, vice prime minister of Ukraine, this week confirmed his country’s government received its second shipment of Starlink user terminals, each of which include a satellite dish and built-in WiFi router. Non-traditional communications channels, especially satellite-based, are critical during crises like war or natural disasters.
“Received the second shipment of Starlink stations,” Fedorov said via Twitter on Wednesday. A photo attached to the tweet showed a semitrailer with dozens of Starlink-branded user terminals sealed in their boxes.
“Thank you for supporting Ukraine and peace in the entire world,” Fedorov said.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk this month agreed to open up the satellite-based internet service to Ukraine after Russia’s invasion. Users only need the terminal, power, and a device like a smartphone or laptop to access the internet, meaning Starlink’s connectivity is less prone to being knocked out by Russian forces.
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“You’re welcome,” Musk said in response to Fedorov. “We have also sent power adapters for car cigarette lighters, solar / battery packs and generators for places where electricity is not available.”
Most of Starlink’s roughly 2,000 satellites currently in orbit were launched from Kennedy Space Center or Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. That trend is likely to continue as SpaceX pushes to expand the network and draw in more customers for the $99-a-month service ($499 a month for premium access).
Starlink was originally positioned as a service that would fill in gaps in ground infrastructure around the world, especially remote communities. Since a Falcon 9 launched the first test satellites in 2018, the constellation has supported internet access during several crises ranging from wildfires in California to the more recent volcanic eruption in Tonga. Now, a full-fledged war is testing the network’s capacity to provide relief during emergency situations.
The next launch of Starlink, meanwhile, is slated for the night of Friday, March 18, but that timeline could shift depending on other hardware operations. Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Launch Complex 40 will host.
For the latest, visit floridatoday.com/launchschedule.
Contact Emre Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 321-242-3715. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @EmreKelly