Though the recent tumult over whether Elon Musk’s SpaceX would continue to fund the operation of its Starlink satellite service in Ukraine appears to be over for now, an uncomfortable question remains: If for some reason Starlink is not available, who else might the Pentagon, or Ukrainian forces for that matter, be able to turn to?While there are other satellite communications firms providing internet connectivity from space, experts say that, at least in the short term, there are few that provide both the wide global coverage and inexpensive, highly mobile and easy-to-use receiver terminals that have made Starlink a vital part of Ukraine’s war against Russia.“There really aren’t any great substitutes here. I mean, this is why [Starlink has] been such a game changer, because there’s not been anything like it before,” said Tim Farrer, an industry consultant. That situation isn’t likely to change, he added, for “maybe about a year” — meaning that for the moment it is almost the only game in town for keeping the embattled Kyiv government and the Ukrainian military connected.
1. Efforts have been underway for more than a month to get Starlink terminals to Iran. One group of activists--who want to stay anonymous to protect their networks--asked me to share this video. They've already sent dozens of terminals to Iran and intend to scale up.2. These efforts are still *very* nascent, but they have evidence the terminals are working and claim they're taking extra precautions to lessen the risks to users. Videos have also begun trickling out of Starlink terminals being used inside the country.3. These efforts are independent of any efforts by the US government to get Starlink terminals to Iran and are in addition to, not in lieu of, other tools (including VPNs) to circumvent Iran's state censorship. The broad goal is to 'let 1000 flowers bloom'4. Getting Starlink terminals to Iran isn't risk-free, but Iranian popular demand for unfettered Internet access is enormous. iPhones, satellite dishes, and alcohol are all prohibited-the latter two are criminal offenses-yet all are ubiquitous inside Iran. Where there's a will...5. @elonmusk has been gracious with his support. Activists have told me it would be v helpful if Starlink dedicated an internal team to this Iran initiative to help address specific technical, safety, and logistical/financial questions. More context here:6. Many folks-including prominent Iranian-American tech entrepreneurs-have been engaged on this issue. One told me they are keen on scaling to several thousand terminals in the next 6 months. That may be an ambitious goal, but they are highly motivated despite the challenges.
The White House has engaged in talks with Elon Musk about the possibility of setting up SpaceX’s satellite internet service Starlink inside Iran, multiple officials familiar with the discussions told CNN.The conversations, which have not been previously reported, come as the Biden administration searches for ways to support the Iranian protest movement that exploded just over a month ago after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died under suspicious circumstances after being detained by the country’s morality police.The White House sees Starlink’s compact, easy-to-use technology as a potential solution to the Iranian regime’s aggressive efforts to restrict activists’ internet access and communications.
Recently, 27 foreign ministers representing countries in the European Union (EU) discussed Starlink services in Ukraine. They talked about funding Starlink to maintain telecommunications systems in Ukraine. Gabrielius Landsbergis, the Foreign Minister of Lithuania, told Politico that the EU’s discussion about funding Starlink services in Ukraine is still in its early stages. “I figured that it’s probably way better to have this as a contractual agreement between, let’s say, a coalition of countries that could purchase a service from Mr. Musk, the Starlink service, and provide it to the Ukrainians and keep on providing it to Ukrainians,” Landbergis noted.
Elon Musk: Before DoD even came back with an answer, I told @FedorovMykhailo that SpaceX would not turn off Starlink even if DoD refused to provide fundingMykhailo Fedorov: Thanks @elonmusk. Before all the talks about funding, you confirmed to me that in any case you will ensure the work of Starlinks in Ukraine. This was critically important for Ukraine. We are grateful to you!Elon Musk: You’re most welcomeSpidey_ElonFan: Elon, what about Iran?? More starlink support being sent there??Elon Musk: Yes
Scientists at a Chinese military nuclear laboratory say a moderately large atomic detonation near the edge of space could potentially create a temporary cloud of radiation that could quickly damage or destroy a large number of satellites in low Earth orbit. There are certainly questions about this anti-satellite concept, including its general practicality. However, it does highlight something that is increasingly set to be a hot topic of discussion in the coming years: how might you rapidly neutralize an enemy's distributed satellite constellation similar in concept to Starlink?
Russia warns West: We can target your commercial satellitesLONDON, Oct 27 (Reuters) - A senior Russian foreign ministry official said that commercial satellites from the United States and its allies could become legitimate targets for Russia if they were involved in the war in Ukraine.[...]"Quasi-civilian infrastructure may be a legitimate target for a retaliatory strike," Vorontsov told the United Nations First Committee, adding that the West's use of such satellites to support Ukraine was "provocative".
White House vows response if Russia attacks U.S. satellitesWASHINGTON, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Any response on U.S. infrastructure will be met with a response, the White House said on Thursday after a senior Russian foreign ministry official said Western commercial satellites could become legitimate targets for Russia if they were involved in the war in Ukraine.
#Ukraine: Remarkable video of today's attack on the Russian Sevastopol Naval Base.Ukrainian Uncrewed Surface Vessels (Drone boats filled with explosives) apparently managed to hit a Project 11356R frigate (presumably Admiral Makarov) & the Ivan Golubets Project 266M minesweeper.
Ukraine suffered a comms outage when 1,300 SpaceX satellite units went offline over funding issues
The outage affected a block of 1,300 terminals that Ukraine purchased from a British company in March and were used for combat-related operations. SpaceX was charging Ukraine’s military $2,500 a month to keep each of the 1,300 units connected, pushing the total cost to almost $20 million by September, the person briefed on the matter said. Eventually, they could no longer afford to pay, the person said
The first base stations of mobile operators in Kherson are operating on Starlink generators and terminals due to the lack of electricity.This was reported by Mykhailo Fedorov, Minister of Digital Transformation, on Telegram"People who have been under occupation for nine months were finally able to call their relatives and say that they are fine. While the city has a problem with other infrastructure, even a minute-long conversation helps the people of Kherson to feel at home again," the minister wrote.
Iranian border guards discovered the gray box in a van crossing from Iraq in late October. Inside was a sleek machine resembling a monitor. But after questioning the driver, the guards waved the vehicle through, people involved said.The guards had just allowed a Starlink satellite dish sold by a division of Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX, into the country. Around 200 of the devices, which enable users to access the internet through satellite links, have been smuggled into Iran by supporters of a monthslong rights movement to help protesters circumvent a government crackdown on online communications, according to the people involved in some of the shipments.
Ukraine will receive over 10,000 Starlink antennas to help counter Russian air attacks, said Mykhailo Fedorov, deputy prime minister and minister for digital transformation, in an interview with Bloomberg.Fedorov said that he has spoken with Elon Musk directly and that SpaceX and its CEO “quickly react to problems and help us.” Elon Musk assured the minister of his continued support for the nation.Musk assured us he would continue to support Ukraine. When we had a powerful blackout, I messaged him on that day, and he momentarily reacted and has already delivered some steps. He understands the situation,” he said.
"The Russian Sestroretsk arms factory claims that it has developed a Starlink terminal detection radar called Borshchevik which 'is designed to detect and determine the location of Starlink terminals in a 180-degree sector at a distance of up to 10 km.'"There's a dedicated website (domain registered 05-DEC-22) promoting this anti-Starlink "radar": https://mkpborshchevik.ru (🇬🇧https://mkpborshchevik-ru.translate.goog/?_x_tr_sl=ru&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=de&_x_tr_pto=wapp)The imagery is identical to that of a (mechanically moving) portable radar system built by the same vendor: https://radar3d.ruN.B.: The website says:🇷🇺Частотный диапазон, ГГц: 2,4 ; 5,8🇬🇧Frequency spectrum, GHz: 2.4 ; 5.8⬆️Obviously Wifi instead of Starlink freqs.Also the format of the specs table seems to be copied from the website of another vendor of radiolocating gear:https://btlabs.ru/volna.html
It's not really about Starlink. They are trying to detect the Starlink WiFi router simply by the MAC address of the access point. Nothing special.The general recommendation is to don't use WiFi when possible. Unfortunately, not everyone follows this rule.
Franz-Stefan Gady, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a think-tank, recently visited the Ukrainian front lines and saw an example of what cheap, ubiquitous connectivity makes possible: a sort of Uber for howitzers. Ukrainian soldiers upload images of potential targets via a mobile network enabled by Starlink. These are sent to an encrypted group chat full of artillery-battery commanders. Those commanders then decide whether to shell the target and, if so, from where. It is much quicker than the means used to co-ordinate fire used up until now.The system also makes drone warfare much easier. In September a Ukrainian naval drone washed up in Sevastopol, the Crimean headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet with what looked like a Starlink terminal attached to its stern. In late October seven similar drones were used to mount a successful attack on the port. Ukraine published a video of the attack shot from the boat’s bow. “Ukrainian military operations are hugely dependent on having access to the internet,” says Mr Gady, “so Starlink is a most critical capability.” A Ukrainian soldier puts it more starkly. “Starlink is our oxygen,” he says. Were it to disappear “Our army would collapse into chaos.”
Taiwan is courting investors to help it establish its own satellite communications provider, inspired by the role Elon Musk’s Starlink has played in the war in Ukraine, as Taipei boosts efforts to fortify itself against a potential assault from China.Taiwan is in preliminary talks with several domestic and international investors to raise funds for the project, which the country’s space agency, known as TASA, wants to spin out of an existing satellite division, according to three people familiar with the situation.“We are going to spin our low-Earth orbit satellite communications project off into a company,” said a senior official at TASA. People familiar with the talks said the government wanted to retain a significant minority stake in the venture.