[Coffee] How does Starlink work to provide internet access to Ukrainian people?

Elon Musk put its Starlink over Ukraine to support the people of Ukraine to have internet access. That was a super badass move. I am freakin’ long TSLA. :smiley:

But how does it work exactly? If radio, internet providers and telecom towers were all disabled, how can someone still have access to the internet in Ukraine?

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Low orbit satellites with receivers on the ground.

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So the ground receivers have to emit data to mobile devices through radio waves? If those receivers are also destroyed. No more internet right?

The ground receivers get internet access through the satellites and then act as hotspots.

Of course if they get destroyed or the satellites get destroyed you don’t have internet access anymore.

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Both ground stations and Starlink terminals directly communicate with Starlink satellites. The ground stations connect Starlink satellites to the internet using local internet connectivity (fiber). There is no direct communication between ground stations and Starlink terminals.

There are no ground stations in Ukraine. However, SpaceX claims there are sufficient ground stations in neighbouring countries to provide Ukraine with full Starlink coverage.


To be clear. You are saying that the ground stations communicate with Starlink satellites through Starlink terminals on the ground?

So the thing is if the ground stations get destroyed, no one can grant their access to the internet. Horrible scene really.

You have:

Starlink - Wikipedia for details

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No, Starlink user terminals communicate through Starlink satellites with ground stations.

Yes, however, the ground stations are outside of Ukraine, e.g. in the NATO country Poland, so they should be safe.

Also afaik you’d need to destroy many of them, not just one (since the satellites are meshed, tho I don’t know if it’s a full routable global mesh).

My understanding is that the shipment we’ve seen in the images is far from capable of providing “people of Ukraine” with internet access. I.e. you can’t have a country worth of internet traffic going through those boxes we’ve seen. Or am I getting it wrong?
Of course, it could be still be helpful to provide some connectivity to crucial systems if they get completely disconnected.

Not sure about that, afaik only the newest ones with laser equipment are forming a real mesh.

Depends… “a country worth of internet traffic” also is a number between 42MBps and multiple Tbps… I hope the users of the terminals don’t use it for watching Netflix or stuff like that.

Also as Musk pointed out, using a starlink terminal can be dangerous (e.g. is likely to make the terminal position a target, satellite transmission aren’t particularly stealthy)

mostly because it should be placed on top of the house and the terminal itself is a white round dish. He also said it’s ok to camourflage it with non-metallic spray paint…

I’d be more worried about the signal part, no camouflage will help.

The US is doing RF scanning (A prototype spy plane is tracking Russian force movements for the US Army - Breaking Defense Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary) from Romania, surely Russia is also having their own systems doing a similar job.