SpaceX shifts resources to cybersecurity to combat Starlink jamming


WASHINGTON — Citing Starlink jamming “near conflict zones,” Elon Musk said on March 5 that SpaceX would be “reprioritized to cyber defense and overcoming signal jamming” at the expense of “minor delays” in Starship and Starlink. V2.

In a series of tweets overnight, Musk, founder and chief executive of SpaceX, said the company was shifting resources in response to the jamming of terminals, presumably to Ukraine. A recent Starlink software update “bypasses the jamming”, he added, but did not give details.

The moves come a week after Musk responded to a request from Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov, the country’s digital transformation minister, to provide Starlink service in the country to ensure access if Russia cuts other communication lines. Musk said on Feb. 26 that Starlink service had been activated in the country, and two days later a first shipment of at least several dozen Starlink terminals had arrived in Ukraine.

Neither SpaceX nor Ukrainian government officials have revealed the number of active Starlink terminals in the country. Musk tweeted on March 3 that SpaceX had made other software changes to reduce the device’s power consumption, allowing it to be powered by a cigarette lighter in a car and to allow roaming on moving vehicles. .

Musk also claimed that Starlink “is the only non-Russian communications system that still works in parts of Ukraine, so the likelihood of being targeted is high.” Please use with caution. While some experts have warned that Starlink terminals could be targeted by Russian forces, it is unclear if they have. Additionally, in much of Ukraine, land mobile connectivity continues to operate, as do satellite services such as Inmarsat and Iridium.

However, Viasat’s KA-SAT geostationary broadband satellite, which provides service to Ukraine and other parts of Europe, has suffered service interruptions since the invasion began on February 24, which the company attributed to a “cybernetic event”.

The focus on cybersecurity and anti-jamming upgrades comes at the expense of other company initiatives. “SpaceX has reprioritized cyber defense and overcome signal jamming. Will cause slight delays in Starship & Starlink V2,” Musk wrote. He did not specify the nature of the delays.

Starlink V2 is the second generation of the Starlink service, with its satellites designed to be launched on Starship vehicles. SpaceX has released few details about the capabilities of these satellites. SpaceX has been developing Starship vehicles at its Boca Chica, Texas test site called Starbase, but cannot attempt an orbital launch of the vehicle until it receives a license from the Federal Aviation Administration. That license, in turn, is contingent on completing an environmental assessment that the FAA says will be done on March 28, a date that has already slipped twice.

This change in resources, however, does not appear to affect SpaceX’s other initiatives, including the launch of additional current-generation Starlink satellites. SpaceX launched an array of 47 Starlink satellites on March 3 from Kennedy Space Center, the third such launch in the past two weeks. Another Starlink satellite launch by Falcon 9 is scheduled no earlier than March 8 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Musk also said Starlink would not block Russian news sources from its network “except at gunpoint.” The European Union has sought to block Russian state-controlled broadcasters, such as Russia Today and Sputnik, from operating in its countries. This prohibition extends to Internet service providers as well as cable and satellite television companies.


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