Starlink Saw Ukrainians Download More Than 7,000 GB Of Data Daily In May

Ramish Zafar
SpaceX's Starship rocket in Boca, Chica, Texas. Image: SpaceX

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SpaceX's Starlink satellite internet constellation saw a massive uptick in download and upload data within two months earlier this year according to fresh data shared by the company's chief Mr. Elon Musk. Starlink shipped its user dishes to Ukraine soon after the Russian invasion resulted in significant damage to communications infrastructure and satellite internet services were taken offline as well.

Since then, SpaceX has partnered up with the U.S. government to ship the terminals, and previous figures shared by Musk have revealed that the company has spent close to $80 million in helping Ukraine. The executive shared more data today after Ukraine's vice prime minister confirmed that Starlink had let his country quickly regain communications capability in the aftermath of devastating cruise missile strikes by Russia that are estimated to have cost more than half a billion dollars.

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Starlink Usage Growth In Ukraine Close To Exponential Levels Shows Data

Musk shared the data moments back as he followed up in his reply to Ukraine's vice prime minister and minister of communication Mr. Mykhailo Fedorov's statement made yesterday in which he outlined that Starlink let his country quickly regain communications in the aftermath of the cruise missile attacks.

These attacks are estimated to have cost Russia close to $650 million, and they are widely believed to be the deadliest assault on Ukraine since the war began in February.

According to details shared by the SpaceX head, Starlink users had downloaded thousands of Gigabytes of data as of the third week of May. The usage statistics start from March 6th, roughly two weeks after SpaceX had activated the service in Ukraine.

Since then, SpaceX and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have shipped close to 20,000 terminals to the war torn country. These have not only helped with crucial military communications, but they have also let Ukrainians maintain communication with the outside world to shed light on the Russian atrocities.

Starlink downloads and uploads data for Ukraine from March to May 2022. Image: Elon Musk/Twitter

Musk's data shows that by the end of the third week of May, Ukrainians had begun downloading 7,000 gigabytes of data daily, with the daily usage growing nearly exponentially since March 6th, when the downloads had started.

The graph also provides a rough estimate of the total data downloaded within the time period, and if we assume an average daily download of 4,000 gigabytes, then the tally comes out at close to 310,000 gigabytes or 308 terabytes of data.

Over the course of the past two years, Starlink has grown from providing Internet connectivity to Americans, to become of the fastest internet services in the globe. Data gathered by Ookla has shown that in most countries, Starlink outperforms broadband internet when it comes to downloading speed.

However, users in the U.S. have been facing reduced speeds this year as a strong user base strains the existing satellite constellation in low Earth orbit (LEO). SpaceX regularly launches Starlink satellites with its Falcon 9 rocket, but newer spacecraft are larger than their predecessors and subsequently end up limiting the total that can be squeezed into its medium lift rocket.

To mitigate this, and bring the second generation Starlink satellites online, SpaceX plans to launch them with its Starship next generation launch vehicle. Starship will be the largest rocket in the world when it is operational, and it will enable SpaceX to rapidly build out its constellation. The rocket is currently waiting for its first orbital launch attempt, and the latest from Boca Chica, Texas, where SpaceX is testing and building the rocket, shows that its upper stage spacecraft is stacked on the first stage.

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