SpaceX Starlink Keeps Ukrainian Government in Communication

As Russian forces invaded, hackers disrupted satellite Internet communication in Ukraine. Four days later, Starlink dishes arrived, putting the Ukrainian government back in communication. Starlink is SpaceX’s megaconstellation of nearly 2,000 satellites in low-Earth orbit. This system is designed to carry large amounts of information without the significant time delays experienced when sending and receiving data of high-orbit satellites.

Megaconstellations, or “proliferated architecture”, can provide “redundancy and capability” according to Gen. James Dickinson, commander of U.S. Space Command.  The Russia-Ukraine war is the test bed for this capability against a technologically advanced adversary.

SpaceX, founded in 2002, has been developing the needed technology to make a commercially feasible megaconstellation and, based on their patent portfolio, the major technological hurdle is antennas. SpaceX has almost 50 patent applications (24 issued, 25 pending) for antenna technology, versus 5 for radiation protection and 3 for satellite constellation technology.  What new technologies will emerge from this war? 

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