Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink satellite network ‘rapidly’ fought off a Russian jamming attack in Ukraine, Pentagon reveals
- SpaceX has so far launched more than 2,000 satellites into orbit for Starlink
- They operate at about 350 miles above the surface of the Earth in a constellation
- When the war broke out in Ukraine, SpaceX made Starlink available in the country with an estimated 5,000 dishes and terminals currently operational
- A Russian attempt to jam signals was detected in March, officials revealed
- A day later, SpaceX engineers patched code and stopped the attack working
Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink satellite network ‘rapidly’ fought off an attempt by Russian attackers to jam the network in Ukraine, the Pentagon has revealed.
An official from the US Office of the Secretary of Defense said the US military would have taken much longer to counter the attack against the SpaceX network.
Starlink is a constellation of more than 2,000 satellites in low Earth orbit, beaming internet connections to dishes around the world, with a large presence in Ukraine, introduced to keep the country online amid the ongoing Russian invasion.
In March, Musk said they had ‘resisted all hacking and jamming attempts’ and were focusing SpaceX efforts on counter measures – at the expense of other projects.
Dave Tremper, from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, was speaking at the C4ISRNET Conference when he confirmed Russian jamming attempts on Starlink.
One day after reports of the Russian jamming attack in Ukraine first emerged, SpaceX had updated its network with new code that fixed the problem, he said.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink satellite network ‘rapidly’ fought off an attempt by Russian attackers to jam the network in Ukraine, the Pentagon revealed
SPACEX STARLINK BROADBAND BRINGS INTERNET TO THE WORLD
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has launched more than 2,000 of its ‘Starlink’ space internet satellites into orbit and hopes to have 12,000 in the sky by 2026.
They form a constellation designed to provide low-cost broadband internet service from low Earth orbit.
While satellite internet has been around for a while, it has suffered from high latency and unreliable connections.
Starlink is different. SpaceX said its goal is to provide high-speed, cable-like internet all over the world.
Musk has previously said the venture could give three billion people who currently do not have access to the internet a cheap way of getting online.
It could also help fund a future city on Mars.
Tremper praised SpaceX for its agility, particularly ‘in the way that Starlink was able to upgrade when a threat showed up’.
He said the US military ‘needs to be able to have that agility’ when tackling cyber threats in the future.
The new code SpaceX introduced meant the line of attack being used to block the internet in Ukraine ‘was not effective anymore.’
The official said it was a ‘fantastic’ line of countermeasure, and described the technique used as ‘eye-watering’.
The US currently has a ‘significant timeline’ to make those types of corrections in its own systems, saying the SpaceX approach is an interesting case study.
‘There’s a really interesting case study to look at the agility that Starlink had in their ability to address that problem,’ he said, as reported by Business Insider.
He isn’t the only leading US official calling for better systems aimed at protecting against cyber warfare.
Brigadier General Tad Clark, who is the director of the Air Force electromagnetic spectrum superiority, told the conference the US needed to build systems for resilience and speed – to respond to threats quickly.
There are thought to be about 5,000 Starlink terminals operational in Ukraine, and earlier reports have suggested they could pose a danger to users.
This is because the distinctive dish, and trackable radio signals could be used by Russian military forces to target their location.
As well as responding to attacks, officials say Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite system is giving Ukrainian forces the edge in winning the drone war as the nation fights back with technology to track down invading Russians.
Aerorozvidka (Aerial Reconnaissance) is being used to attack Russian drones and target Vladmir Putin’s army of tanks and track down their positions in the conflict, which has been ongoing since February 24, according to The Telegraph.
Drones used in the field are able to use the newly available Starlink to keep connected and provide intelligence as internet and power outages plague Ukraine.
An official from the US Office of the Secretary of Defense said the US military would have taken much longer to counter the attack against the SpaceX network
Starlink is a constellation of more than 2,000 satellites in low Earth orbit, beaming internet connections to dishes around the world, with a large presence in Ukraine, introduced to keep the country online amid the ongoing Russian invasion
With the technology, the drones can be directed to drop anti-tank munitions to help ward off the Russian attack.
The so-far-successful implementation of the satellites into the defense of the war-torn nation makes good on a promise outspoken mogul Musk – who challenged Putin to a fist fight for the future of Ukraine earlier this week – made to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier in the month, that SpaceX will send more Starlink satellite stations to provide internet to some of the country’s stricken cities.
The president of the embattled country took to Twitter to thank the Tesla CEO, 50, for the support, and invited the tech mogul to visit Ukraine once the war is over.
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