SpaceX Bans Ukraine From Using Starlink Tech to Fly Armed Drones

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SpaceX Bans Ukraine From Using Starlink Tech to Fly Armed Drones


(Photo : AFP via Getty Images)
Ukrainians use their mobile phones standing near a Starlink satellite-based broadband station in Kherson, on November 13, 2022, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – On November 11, 2022, Russia said it had pulled back more than 30,000 troops in the southern region, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declaring Kherson “ours” as residents reacted with joy and jubilation.

SpaceX has taken measures to prevent the Ukrainian military in Kyiv from utilizing its Starlink network access to operate drones equipped with weapons.

Amid the War

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year resulted in the widespread destruction of the country’s critical infrastructure. SpaceX offered aid by shipping many Starlink dishes connected to the company’s satellites in low Earth orbit to restore online services for government institutions, hospitals, banks, and others.

However, as reported by Digital Trends, the Ukrainian military has been using drones to target the enemy. It is also said that the group is close to completing the development of an attack drone with a range of 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) and a payload capacity of 165 pounds (75 kilograms).

At a presentation in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, Feb. 8, SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell stated that the company’s Starlink internet technology never intended to be weaponized. Nevertheless, the Ukrainian military may utilize it for communications.

She made mention of allegations that Ukraine was using Starlink to pilot drones, and she emphasized that the technology had been donated for humanitarian purposes.

According to a quote from Shotwell given to Reuters, the Ukrainians’ use of the firm’s tech was in ways that were unintended and not part of any arrangement.

The official from SpaceX said that the firm had made efforts to restrict the military’s offensive use of Starlink, though she did not elaborate.

According to a BBC report, Ukraine has relied heavily on unmanned aircraft throughout the conflict. The military is using them to conduct reconnaissance, drop bombs, and retaliate against Russia’s own drone operations.

Read Also: Ukraine is Now in Fast-Track Talks with Allies for Long-Range Missiles and Other Weapons Supply 

Boss’ Viewpoint

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk predicted back at the end of January that he would be condemned no matter what the company does with the Starlink technology in Ukraine.

He quoted the saying, “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

Musk tweeted, “Starlink has become the connectivity backbone of Ukraine all the way up to the front lines… However, we are not allowing Starlink to be used for long-range drone strikes.”

Musk claims that Russian attempts to block Starlink communications in Ukraine have prompted SpaceX to develop more robust software.

Some of the Starlink terminals shipped to Ukraine have been provided at no cost, thanks to SpaceX, while more terminals have been sent by the US and other countries as part of their assistance efforts.

In October, Musk gave the impression that he would no longer be able to sponsor Starlink in Ukraine, but he quickly changed his mind.

Read Also: Next-Gen Starlink Satellite Dishes To Be Tested; Up to 200 Models Allowed by FCC

Trisha Andrada

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