What’s happening: Elon Musk had the ability to enable Starlink internet access to Ukraine near Crimea for an attack on the Russian naval fleet but decided against it, thinking it would lead to a major escalation such as nuclear war, according to a new biography.
- Zoom in: The media originally reported that Elon Musk cut Ukraine’s access to thwart their military plans, missing the fact that Ukraine never had access to begin with. According to Musk, “Starlink was not meant to be involved in wars.”
Why it matters: After a decade of innovation, Elon Musk is now in a position of enormous power on a global scale, which he has decided to put at odds with the American establishment.
Starlink: With the goal of providing worldwide access to the internet, Starlink has been in high demand by governments in a bind, like Ukraine’s, which has relied almost exclusively on Musk’s company. Other countries like China are concerned Musk could allow free, uncensored access at any moment, as Musk delivered to anti-government protestors in Iran last year.
- The extent: Around nine countries in Europe and the Middle East are now using Starlink, though it's intended to be a commercial product. The majority of active satellites in the orbit are Starlink’s.
X: By acquiring Twitter, now rebranded as X, Elon Musk found himself at the center of free speech debates on a global scale. In America, Musk ended Washington’s monopoly of online censorship and restored political debate to one of the world’s most influential social networks. Other countries aren’t as lucky, with Musk’s X coordinating with Turkish officials to censor content ahead of elections.
SpaceX: The federal government is now one of SpaceX’s largest customers. It uses the innovative aerospace company’s rockets for NASA missions, for launching surveillance satellites, for Starlink’s internet services, and for astronaut launches. Some predict SpaceX will monopolize Washington’s space launch market over the next few years.