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Ukraine to receive Starlink services under US deal

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches Starlink at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on 23 May 2019. Following an agreement with the US DoD, the services will continue to support Ukraine for the foreseeable future. (US Air Force)

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has contracted SpaceX to provide its Starlink satellite communication (satcom) services to Ukraine.

An announcement by the DoD on 1 June stated it had contracted Starlink to provide satcom services to Ukraine as it “constitutes a vital layer in Ukraine's overall communications network”.

Information regarding the cost and timeframes of the deal were not detailed for national security reasons.

Starlink has been providing satcom services to Ukraine since February 2022, following a request from the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine for Innovations, Development of Education, Science and Technology, Mykhailo Fedorov. These services, along with the provision of commercial satellite imagery, have been a “game changer” in the Ukraine conflict, significantly aiding the country's strategic military response, Volodymyr Usov, former chairman of the State Space Agency of Ukraine, said at the Defence Space Conference 2022 in London.

Over this period, Starlink has faced a constant barrage of cyber attacks that have become increasingly difficult to counter. Consequently, it costs the company USD20 million per month to create, launch, maintain, and replenish the satellites and ground stations necessary to continue to provide services to Ukraine, CEO of the company Elon Musk said in September 2022. Musk subsequently called on the US to fund its services in Ukraine, as the costs were deemed unsustainable for the company.

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