SpaceX Starlink in Ukraine was Over a Month in the Making, Says President

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell says the company worked for weeks to get approval for Starlink internet in Ukraine, prior to the country tweeting at CEO Elon Musk just days after Russia began invading, according to Space News.

In a talk for the California Institute of Technology on March 7, Shotwell said “We had been working on trying to get permission — landing rights — to lay down capacity in Ukraine. We had been working with the Ukrainians for a month and a half or so.”

While SpaceX awaited a formal letter granting rights, Shotwell said, “But then they tweeted. There’s our permission.”

Ukraine Minister @Mykhailo Federov tweeted at Musk on February 26, asking Musk to “provide Ukraine with Starlink stations.”

Later that day, @Musk responded saying “Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.”

Days later, Ukraine received a first truckload round of Starlink terminals from Musk and SpaceX, before providing an update on March 3 saying that Starlink is the only non-Russian communication system working in many parts of Ukraine, and warning that it was likely to be targeted.

Musk’s electric vehicle (EV) company Tesla also began offering free Supercharging in some countries near Ukraine in the past few weeks.

Last week, Musk also tweeted that Starlink wouldn’t block Russian news “unless at gunpoint.”