In his most recent tweet, Elon Musk declared that Starlink, his satellite internet provider controlled by SpaceX, is “meant for peaceful use only.” During a recent United Nations meeting on lowering space threats, a Russian delegate expressed worry about ‘civilian satellites’ being a ‘legitimate target for retaliation.’
“We would like to underline an extremely dangerous trend that goes beyond the harmless use of outer space technologies and has become apparent during the events in Ukraine,” an official from Russia named Konstantin Vorontsov said on September 12.
“Namely, the use by the United States and its allies of the elements of civilian, including commercial, infrastructure in outer space for military purposes,” he added.
“It seems like our colleagues do not realize that such actions constitute indirect involvement in military conflicts. As a result, quasi-civilian infrastructure may become a legitimate target for retaliation”.
Furthermore, the official highlighted a breach of the Outer Space Treaty as a reason to avoid using civilian satellites.
Many speculate that the word ‘US and its allies’ refers to SpaceX, which activated Starlink in Ukraine at the request of the country’s Vice Prime Minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, following Russia’s February 24 attack on Kyiv. Since then, SpaceX has sent many Starlink terminals, which civilians and the Ukrainian military are utilizing to repel Russian soldiers.
SpaceX stated earlier this week that Starlink is now operational on all seven continents and that it is testing a new laser network for additional connection.
“Starlink is now on all seven continents! In such a remote location like Antarctica, this capability is enabled by Starlink’s space laser network”, the company tweeted. The Starlink constellation now has approximately 2,800 operating satellites, which is expected to grow in the upcoming weeks. SpaceX is now planning to launch 54 additional Starlink satellites into orbit from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on September 18 at 6:13 a.m. IST.