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Elon Musk says SpaceX focusing on cyber defense after Starlink signals jammed near Ukraine conflict areas

A fleet of SpaceX Starlink internet satellites is seen poised for deployment in orbit in this file image from a May 24, 2019 launch.
A fleet of SpaceX Starlink internet satellites is seen poised for deployment in orbit in this file image from a May 24, 2019 launch. (Image credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said Friday that his company is now focusing on cyber defense and overcoming signal jamming of its Starlink internet satellites amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Musk and SpaceX sent Starlink terminals to Ukraine at the request of a government official after internet service was disrupted across the country by the Russian invasion. A shipment of Starlink ground terminals, which use an antenna and terminal to access the satellite broadband service, arrived in Ukraine by Monday Feb. 28). With the terminals in use, SpaceX is working to keep them online, Musk said.

"Some Starlink terminals near conflict areas were being jammed for several hours at a time," Musk wrote in a Twitter statement (opens in new tab) Friday (March 1). "Our latest software update bypasses the jamming."

Related: How will Ukraine keep SpaceX's Starlink internet service online?
Photos: Russia's invasion of Ukraine as seen in satellite images

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Musk later said SpaceX is shifting its focus to keeping its Starlink service uninterrupted in Ukraine and likely elsewhere. 

"SpaceX reprioritized to cyber defense & overcoming signal jamming," he wrote Friday. Musk quipped that the measures were a bit of unexpected quality assurance work for the Starlink system.

Musk also said the Starlink work "will cause slight delays in Starship & Starlink V2."

SpaceX's Starship is a giant reusable spacecraft designed to use a huge reusable booster called Super Heavy to launch missions into deep space. NASA has tapped the Starship vehicle to land astronauts on the moon for its Artemis program. SpaceX is hoping the launch the first orbital flight of an uncrewed Starship in the next few months. Starlink V2 is SpaceX's next-generation Starlink system that includes laser links between satellites and other enhancements. 

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After delivering Starlink terminals to Ukraine, Musk cautioned that the system could make its users vulnerable to Russian military attacks. 

"Important warning: Starlink is the only non-Russian communications system still working in some parts of Ukraine, so probability of being targeted is high. Please use with caution," Musk wrote on Twitter Thursday (opens in new tab) (March 3). 

"Turn on Starlink only when needed and place antenna away as far away from people as possible," Musk continued (opens in new tab). "Place light camouflage over antenna to avoid visual detection," he added (opens in new tab)

On Thursday (March 3), SpaceX sent its latest batch of Starlink satellites into orbit on a Falcon 9 rocket. That mission launched 47 new Starlink satellites in orbit from Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. To date, SpaceX has launched more than 2,000 satellites into orbit, with plans for an initial megaconstellation of 12,000 to provide global broadband coverage. 

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Tariq Malik
Editor-in-Chief

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter.