SpaceX’s role in wars and natural disasters | Internet

Elon Musk may be world famous for his strong opinions on Twitter or his animal testing by the Neuralink company: as the leader of SpaceX, he also regularly puts himself on the map positive. Not only because of the possibilities that he offers in space transportation, but also with Starlink, the satellite internet company that is part of SpaceX.

There are currently around 2,000 Starlink satellites in orbit around the Earth. The plan is to add thousands more. Something that is good for the Internet, but not so good for almost all other initiatives in the space. For example, satellites sometimes reflect very poorly in space photos, and problems with some satellites lead to more space debris. Recently, 40 satellites had not been shot deep enough into space, causing them to go up in smoke. NASA, among others, has already ruled on the danger of colliding with such a satellite.

Still, the satellites are worth it at the same time. Starlink’s technology can help with natural disasters, as recently demonstrated in Tonga. Here there was a large volcanic eruption followed by a tsunami that partially destroyed the country. The New Zealand government enlisted Elon Musk’s satellites to provide the Internet to the people of Tonga. Musk was hesitant at first, because there are not yet enough satellites with laser links (which reduce latency) and because there are already satellites serving the Polynesian area. Still, Starlink has finally become possible in Tonga and will remain until the undersea internet cable that broke in the eruption is repaired, which could take up to a month.

Unfortunately, the world also has to deal with wars and the most recent one, the one in Russia and Ukraine, also ended up calling out Elon Musk and his team. For example, Starlink terminals were sent to Ukraine after Ukrainian Minister Mykhailo Fedorov asked for help. He did so with a striking message: “While [Elon Musk] Mars tries to colonize, Russia tries to occupy Ukraine! While their missiles successfully land from space, Russian missiles are attacking Ukrainian civilians! We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations and to call on sensible Russians to stand up.”

In fact, Elon Musk decided to do this: in one day he turned on Starlink in Ukraine. As a result, people in Ukraine who saw their internet go down can still ask for help through Starlink or keep loved ones informed about their well-being. However, there is also a danger in those Starlink terminals. If Putin takes control of the airspace over Ukraine, the transmissions from those terminals could become a kind of beacon for air strikes. A technique that the Russians seem to use more often. However, the Internet is desperately needed, because it means that aid campaigns can be launched through social networks, among other things.

SpaceX can also play an important role in emergency services. For example, emergency services in Washington use Starlink Internet (via CNBC). These are the state soldiers who come when there are forest fires, for example. By having seven user terminals around an area where fires occur quickly, communication can be established quickly. What rescuers especially like about this is how quickly a Starlink terminal connects and that you don’t have to spend hours fiddling with satellite equipment, according to rescuers. With Starlink, users can expect download speeds between 100 Mb/s and 200 MB/s with 20 millisecond latency from most locations.

Starlink’s commitment is twofold: on the one hand it can save lives, on the other it can cost lives. Lives of astronauts who suffer from space debris or an airspace full of satellites, but also of people who already have a hard time in a war zone, because the enemy may be able to conveniently track them. At the same time, social media has shown that it can make a hugely important and positive contribution to emergency relief, and people are able to stay informed and possibly help each other in private, thanks to the internet, something that is now more important than ever. , even if it is always a consideration if it is worth losing the potential of human lives.

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