Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk issued an important warning for Ukrainians using his Starlink terminals in the country, stating that those who use the platform are at “high” risk of being targeted because they are some of the only remaining telecommunications systems on the ground that work.
“Important warning: Starlink is the only non-Russian communications system still working in some parts of Ukraine, so probability of being targeted is high,” Musk tweeted. “Please use with caution.”
Amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Musk donated a truckload of Starlink high-speed internet access terminals, alongside launching several satellites, to allow Ukrainian civilians to have access to the Internet in the event that their telecommunications are cut off, Rebel News reported.
Responding to a public call from Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Federov, the Tesla and SpaceX founder said at the time, “Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.”
Asked for advice on how people might use Starlink’s network with caution, Musk replied, “Turn on Starlink only when needed and place antenna away as far away from people as possible.”
“Place light camouflage over antenna to avoid visual detection,” Musk added, suggesting that it was fine to spray paint the satellite antenna provided that there are “no metal particles in paint.”
In a separate tweet, Musk said that his company was updating Starlink’s software to reduce peak power consumption, “so Starlink can be powered from a car cigarette lighter.”
The update would also add mobile roaming functionality so phased array antennas can maintain a signal for users in moving vehicles.
“Starlink provides high-speed, low-latency broadband internet across the globe. Within each coverage area, orders are fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis,” the company says. “Using advanced satellites in a low orbit, Starlink enables video calls, online gaming, streaming, and other high data rate activities that historically have not been possible with satellite internet.”
“Starlink is ideally suited for areas where connectivity has been unreliable or completely unavailable,” the company added. “People across the globe are using Starlink to gain access to education, health services and even communications support during natural disasters.”