Gwynne Shotwell said that the Ukrainian military used the Starlink terminals transferred to the country “for offensive purposes against Russia,” but the company never transferred them for these purposes. Now SpaceX will do everything to prevent drones from being controlled through them.
SpaceX does not transmit Starlink for the military
Gwynne Shotwell, President and Chief Operating Officer of SpaceX, speaking on February 8 at the Federal Aviation Administration’s Conference on Commercial Space Transport, touched on the topic of using Starlink in Ukraine to control drones and other offensive actions.
“We were really pleased to be able to provide Ukraine connectivity and help them in their fight for freedom,” she said. “It was never intended to be weaponized, but the Ukrainians have leveraged it in ways that were unintentional and not part of any agreement.”
She did not tell directly in her speech what “turning into a weapon” meant. However, later in a conversation with reporters, Shotwell clarified that it was about controlling drones. According to her, Starlink deliveries were carried out for humanitarian purposes, although they admitted that the military could use them to exchange information.
“We know the military is using them for comms, and that’s ok. But our intent was never to have them use it for offensive purposes,” she said, adding that she simply did not think about such a possibility before starting the supply, but quickly realized it later.
SpaceX did something
Last autumn, the owner of SpaceX spoke quite negatively about the continued use of Starlink in Ukraine. According to him, the company was losing money on this. Then he was persuaded to extend deliveries, despite the fact that he continued to complain about financial problems.
Now Shotwell claimed that she was the one who asked the Pentagon to finance the delivery of terminals to Ukraine. “I was the one that asked the Pentagon to fund this. It was not an Elon thing. We stopped interacting with the Pentagon on the existing capability,” the SpaceX president added.
In conclusion, Shotwell announced the possible use of Starlink by Ukrainians to control drones: “There are things that we can do to limit their ability to do that. There are things that we can do, and have done”.
When asked by journalists whether the failures in the operation of Starlink in the frontline areas were the result of these actions, Schottwell replied: “I don’t want to answer it because I’m not sure I know the answer.”
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