Elon Musk says SpaceX’s Starlink space internet is getting new update to help Ukraine

·1-min read
SpaceX provided Starlink's broadband network to emergency responders for free (Starlink)
SpaceX provided Starlink's broadband network to emergency responders for free (Starlink)

SpaceX’s Starlink space internet is getting an update to make it more useful to people in Ukraine, Elon Musk has announced.

The company is releasing a software update so that its receivers will require less energy, allowing them to be powered from a car’s cigarette lighter. The antennas should also be able to work from a moving vehicle, he said.

The updates were announced by Mr Musk on Twitter, in response to Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s vice prime minister. The two have been in contact about a range of topics as SpaceX aims to use its Starlink systems to keep Ukrainian internet online.

Mr Fedorov had asked for help with the fact that attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure were making it harder for people in the country to keep the Starlink units online and communicating with the internet. Mr Musk announced the updates in response.

Previously, the two had communicated about the possibility of using solar power to keep the units charged up.

“Solar panels and battery pack better than generator, as no heat signature or smoke and doesn’t run out of fuel,” Mr Musk wrote to Mr Fedorov, who replied that such a fix was difficult because the “weather – clouds and smoke from burning cities”.

In response, Mr Musk wrote that the solar panels might have to be larger if they were obscured, but that it “works better than one might think”.

Mr Musk’s latest announcement came almost at the same time that SpaceX deployed a fleet of new Starlink satellites on board one of its Falcon 9 rockets.

He had joked that the satellites were being carried by “American broomsticks” in response to disparaging comments from Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s space agency.