SpaceX — a company founded and owned by Elon Musk with the express intention of colonizing Mars — successfully stopped a Russian electromagnetic attack in Ukraine.
In March, Musk’s company worked at a breakneck pace to shut down Russian efforts to disconnect Ukrainians from the internet by jamming the country’s access to its Starlink satellite constellation.
Starlink is operated by SpaceX and provides internet coverage to 32 countries. The constellation consists of more than 2,000 mass-produced small satellites that reside in low orbit and communicate with designated transceivers on the Earth’s surface.
At the outset of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, when it became clear that the Russian government was going to target the Ukrainian people’s ability to communicate, Ukrainian officials pleaded with Musk to intervene and provide them with relief.
Dave Tremper, director of electronic warfare for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, lauded SpaceX’s ability to turn on a dime and swiftly stymie Russia’s efforts to jam the Starlink satellite’s ability to provide broadband.
Defense News reported that Tremper said, “The next day [after reports about the Russian jamming effort hit the media], Starlink had slung a line of code and fixed it, and suddenly that [Russian jamming attack] was not effective anymore. From [the] EW technologist’s perspective, that is fantastic … and how they did that was eye-watering to me.”
Tremper noted that it would have taken the American government considerably longer to counteract the Russian electromagnetic attack than it did Musk’s company.
Tremper said, “We need to be able to have that agility. We need to be able to change our electromagnetic posture to be able to change, very dynamically, what we’re trying to do without losing capability along the way.”
Noting that electromagnetic warfare requires very finely tuned machinery and highly skilled operators, Tremper said the Russian invasion of Ukraine indicated how important it was to make sure that American personnel were properly trained in electromagnetic warfare operations.
He said, “It is a very hard problem, if you don’t have well-trained operators. The degree of coordination and synchronization of these types of operations is such that the undertrained operator will have a harder time pulling off those types of events successfully.”
This is not the only time that Elon Musk has thwarted the Russians’ plans in the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
When the Russian government threatened to drop the International Space Station on the Earth by ceasing to provide it with resources and technology for propulsion, Musk said that he would keep the station from falling onto the planet.