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Elon Musk warns Starlink system in Ukraine could be ‘targeted’

Elon Musk warns Starlink system in Ukraine could be ‘targeted’
Photo Credit: Reuters
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SpaceX chief Elon Musk has warned that there is a high chance of the Starlink satellite broadband service could be “targeted” in Ukraine, which is under Russian invasion.  

Musk twitted to announce, “Important warning: Starlink is the only non-Russian communications system still working in some parts of Ukraine, so probability of being targeted is high. Please use with caution.”  

Musk asked users to “turn on Starlink only when needed and place antenna away as far away from people as possible" and "place light camouflage over antenna to avoid visual detection.” 

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The warning comes days after researcher John Scott-Railton warned that the devices used for the satellite could act as beacons that Russia could target for airstrike.   

Last week John Scott-Railton had twitted, “If Putin controls the air above Ukraine, users’ uplink transmissions become beacons… for airstrikes.” He further explained, “Russia has decades of experience hitting people by targeting their satellite communications. In 1996, Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudayev was careful, but Russian aircraft reportedly found his satphone call & killed him with a missile strike.”  

Earlier last week, Elon Musk had said Starlink satellite broadband service had been activated in Ukraine. This comes after Ukrainian Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov requested the tech giant to provide his embattled country with stations.  

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Ukraine has a humongous space industry whose Zenit rocket is Elon Musk’s favourite. But given the Russian invasion, the country’s prospective is gotten in doldrums. However, the country’s former space chief Volodymyr Usov told Space.com that he “still has hopes for the future and believes the underdog Ukraine could help fill Russia’s shoes in international collaborations.”  

The Ukraine-Russia faceoff has had a huge impact on the private space industry, giving a peek into how several critical aspects of private space missions are controlled by certain countries around the world. At the centre of this Russia lays out demands to the United Kingdom government for launching OneWeb — the satellite operator. Just before the potential launch of 36 new satellites scheduled to become part of the OneWeb low-Earth orbit (LEO) constellation, the Russian state-controlled space agency, Roscosmos, has said that it will not offer launch services to OneWeb — unless two specific demands are met by the company.  

Dimitry Rogozin, chief of Roscosmos, has stated that for the OneWeb satellites to take off for LEO deployment aboard a commercial Russian Soyuz rocket, the UK government will have to sell its stake in the company. OneWeb will also be required to commit to Russia that the satellites will not, directly or indirectly, play a role in any military activities. While making the statement, Rogozin further clarified that the demands made by Roscosmos are in response to the economic sanctions that the UK government has imposed on the country.   

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