WTF?! SpaceX's Starlink satellite system has, not for the first time, been threatened with destruction by a foreign government. Unsurprisingly, it was Russia that made the veiled threat against Elon Musk's company, which has been a huge asset to Ukraine in its battle against invading Russian forces.
The warning came during a United Nations working group meeting on reducing space threats last week. Konstantin Vorontsov, a member of the Russian delegation, said that the country "would like to underline an extremely dangerous trend that goes beyond the harmless use of outer space technologies and has become apparent during the events in Ukraine. Namely, the United States and its allies use the elements of civilian, including commercial, infrastructure in outer space for military purposes."
Vorontsov never mentioned Starlink by name, but there was no doubting what he was referring to. The Russian Foreign Ministry member and head of the country's UN Office for Disarmament Affairs delegation added a warning: "It seems like our colleagues do not realize that such actions in fact constitute indirect involvement in military conflicts. Quasi-civilian infrastructure may become a legitimate target for retaliation."
"At the very least, this provocative use of civilian satellites is questionable under the Outer Space Treaty, which provides for the exclusively peaceful use of outer space, and must be strongly condemned by the international community," Vorontsov added.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk responded to the threat with a tweet emphasizing that Starlink is meant for peaceful use only.
Starlink is meant for peaceful use only— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 17, 2022
The world's richest person has clashed with Russia on several occasions since he sent shipments of Starlink terminals to Ukraine so its citizens can continue accessing the internet in cities under siege. SpaceX has supplied over thousands of terminals to the country, which now has well over 150,000 active Starlink users per day.
Back in November, Russia tested an anti-satellite missile by destroying one of its old satellites. It drew international condemnation for the resulting debris field that SpaceX satellites have been forced to avoid. Musk responded by saying SpaceX can launch satellites faster than Russia can shoot them down.
Earlier this year, Musk said that SpaceX could stop the ISS from crashing into Earth, a scenario put forward by the since-fired Russian space chief Dmitry Rogozin, who also made a veiled threat against the Tesla boss' life. Musk previously offered to fight Russian President Vladimir Putin in "single combat" to decide the future of Ukraine.
If I die under mysterious circumstances, it's been nice knowin ya— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 9, 2022
It's not just Russia that has issues with SpaceX. A paper by government-affiliated researchers published by China's Modern Defence Technology in May said the Asian nation should develop methods to destroy the satellites, which had brought hidden dangers and challenges to the country.