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Space exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) chief executive officer Mr. Elon Musk has received flak from the head of the State Space Corporation, commonly known as 'Roscosmos' of Russia. Roscosmos head Mr. Dimitry Rogozin took to social media late last week to personally target officials of the United States government after sanctions imposed on his country dealt a hefty blow to its commercial space program. Russia uses its Soyuz rockets to send both government and commercial payloads to space, including astronauts, and the U.S. sanctions have removed the potential for corporation between American companies and Russia for non-government launches.
Mr. Musk came into the spotlight on Saturday when he informed the Ukrainian Vice President, Mr. Mykhailo Fedorov, that his company had activated its Starlink satellite-based internet service in Mr. Federov's country and that more terminals were on their way. Starlink terminals, commonly referred to as dishes, are used by users to connect to orbiting satellites for connectivity, and the Ukrainian official soon confirmed later on that the equipment had arrived.
The SpaceX head's decision to aid Ukraine during a time of conflict has irritated Mr. Rogozin, who criticized Mr. Musk and his company in a new statement given to a Russian state-sponsored media outlet. In it, the space chief warns his countrymen of cooperating with Western companies.
'Maybe It Was Bad Weather?' Jokes Musk After Delivering Starlink Terminals
Mr. Rogozin's brief statement made to the news outlet lasts for roughly 90 seconds and came in response to Mr. Musk deciding to send the terminals to Ukraine. Judging by the image shared by Mr. Federov on the social media platform Twitter, our estimates suggest that the initial shipment could include as many as 218 dishes which can provide coverage for more than double that since a Starlink package also includes a WiFi router which enables people to share a single connection.
The Russian space chief's comments were shared by a user on Twitter as well, who translated his statement to read as follows:
Dmitry @Rogozin to Russia Today: "When Russia implements its highest national interests on the territory of Ukraine, @elonmusk appears with his Starlink which was previously declared as purely civilian. Here is this mud (мурло) opened himself..."
"...I warned about it, but our "muskophiles" said - he is the light of the world cosmonautics. Here, look, he has chosen the side. I don't even blame him personally. This is the West that we should never trust."
Mr. Musk indirectly responded to Mr. Rogozin and stated that:
Ukraine civilian Internet was experiencing strange outages – bad weather perhaps? – so SpaceX is helping fix it
The ongoing crisis in Europe has made the general public skeptical about state-sponsored media outlets due to their partiality in reporting. As a result, technology firms dealing with information dissemination, namely Google, Facebook and Microsoft have all restricted access to these outlets in order to stem the flow of misinformation.
SpaceX's Starlink terminals have already started to function in Ukraine, and according to Mr. Federov, is helping emergency services stay connected during this time of crisis. Another problem that his country is facing is sourcing the power required to run the equipment and at this front Mr. Musk has suggested the use of solar panels and battery packs - which Mr. Federov fears might be impractical due to a lack of sunlight and smoke from burning cities.