Elon Musk activates SpaceX Starlink service over Ukraine

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Starlink, which is a satellite constellation by SpaceX meant to provide internet access worldwide once completed, is facing threats from space debris. This debris was created after Russia fired an anti-satellite missile to blow up one of its own satellites in an event known as an ASAT test late last November. The test sent thousands of pieces of the satellite spiralling out of control, forcing astronauts onboard the international space station to duck for cover.

Speaking at a Secure World Foundation event during the Small Satellite Conference Monday, Dan Oltrogge, chief scientist at COMSPOC noted that the debris came very close to some Starlink satellites.

COMPSPOC, which tracks objects in space, noted that the pieces of the Cosmos 1408, which was blown to bits by Putin, are lining up with satellites that were launched in a sun-synchronous orbit.

These are orbits that keep the Sun at a constant altitude relative to the Earth.

Mr Oltrogge said that his company has identified more than 6,000 close approaches, that affected 841 Starlink satellites, which represented about 30 percent of Mr Musk’s constellation.

SpaceX has previously emphasised that Starlink satellites can manoeuvre in such scenarios, however, they have not yet commented on whether any satellites were affected by the space junk.

COMSPOC described the event as a “conjunction squall”, which is a violent storm of objects being within 10 kilometres of the satellite, according to the company’s standards.

Both Mr Musk and Starlink have angered Russia over the past year after the SpaceX CEO handed Ukraine more than 10,000 dish antennas since the start of Putin’s invasion.

These satellites have been deployed in settings from governmental buildings, hospitals and schools — to helping to control drones used to combat the invading Russian forces.

In May, Mr Musk tweeted: “If I die under mysterious circumstances, it’s been nice knowing you.”

The SpaceX CEO’s glib but grim comment came after he shared a statement from then Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin.

The statement read: “Elon Musk, thus, is involved in supplying the fascist forces in Ukraine with military communication equipment.

“And for this, Elon, you will be held accountable like an adult — no matter how much you’ll play the fool.”

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While the Russian-made conjunction squall proved to be a major threat to Starlink satellites, Mr Musk is not completely without blame.

COMSPOC found that the conjunction squall was exacerbated following a recent launch of a new batch of Starlink satellites.

Parts of the space debris belonged to a Starlink cluster known as “Group 3”, which launched on July 10 and July 22.

Mr Musk has previously faced sharp criticism for reckless use of satellites and space debris.

Earlier this year, he faced the ire of Chinese citizens online after their space station was reportedly forced to take evasive actions to avoid collision with satellites.

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