SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk, believes that his company's Starlink satellites are not easy for adversaries like Russia or China to take down. Musk said this during an interview with Business Insider.
Musk spoke to Mathias Döpfner, the CEO of Axel Springer, the company that owns Business Insider, recently at Tesla's factory in Fremont, California. The duo discussed space travel, the future of humanity as well as its present which included the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Musk has been very much a part of the Ukrainian defense by supplying Starlink terminals and activating satellite internet services in the country at short notice.
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Ukraine's need for satellite internet
While revealing the motivations behind supplying the terminals and the rapid pace at which SpaceX delivered them, Musk said that the company anticipated the need for satellite internet at the beginning of the invasion and preemptively acted on it, even before a formal request was made by Ukraine.
After a cyberattack took off Ukrainian internet connectivity and cell phone towers were either being blown up or jammed, satellite internet was the only viable connection mode available and the SpaceX rushed to provide its services.
While we had earlier reported how private individuals in Ukraine are relying on Starlink, a Business Insider report said that Starlink's internet services were also helping an elite Ukrainian drone unit take out Russian tanks and trucks in the night.
This makes the internet service a prime target for Russian forces.
Not so easy
Musk cited an anti-satellite test that Russia had conducted last where it used its anti-ballistic missile interceptor, PL-19 Nudol system, for its direct ascent anti-satellite (DA-AST) to test, and destroyed an older satellite of its own. The resulting space debris not only spooked satellite operators but also caused a scare for the International Space Station.
However, Musk is confident that such a system won't be used against its satellites. Starlink currently operates over 2,000 satellites and to bring the entire constellation down would cost an adversary, 2,000 of its anti-satellite weapons.
Interestingly, Musk thinks that SpaceX can put up more satellites in space than adversaries can bring down in a given time frame.
He does hope that this is never put to test, though.