Imagine a US Embassy under attack in a foreign country.  It is seemingly cut off from all aid and assistance.  The outnumbered Marine guards are fighting off hoards of armed attackers trying to storm the embassy. Suddenly, from the skies above comes a deep rumble that shakes the Earth. Looking up, both the Marines and the armed mob see 6 huge rockets descend from the skies and land upright.  Like something from a Sci-Fi movie, a ramp descends, and several hundred Marines storm down the ramp. This is what Elon Musk’s companies hope to achieve. 

As early as the 1950s, many scientists have investigated the possibility of utilizing rockets to transport troops. Specifically, an attempt named Project Ithacus, where 1,200 Marines would blast off into space and reach their destination in under an hour – sounds quite familiar to the current project. Last January 28, SpaceX won a contract worth $102 million to transport military supplies and aid to anywhere in the world using a rocket, so we’re definitely on our way toward developing that technology.

Starlink and the US Military

Starlink, a satellite internet service operated by his own SpaceX, had been deployed to Ukraine after a casual request from the country’s Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov. In a tweet, he asked Musk to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations for internet access.

“@elonmusk, while you try to colonize Mars – Russia try to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets successfully land from space – Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people! We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations and to address sane Russians to stand,” the Vice Prime Minister said.

Within a few days, Elon stated that Starlink was activated in Ukraine and that the terminals were on their way. Fedorov thanked Musk as the terminals would arrive on March 1, with Musk replying to the Vice Prime Minster with a “You are most welcome” tweet.

When Russian forces jammed the European Satellite Communications (SATCOM) terminals early on in the war, Musk’s SpaceX came in not just for internet communications but also as Ukraine’s GIS artillery, ultimately helping them restore SATCOM services. This enabled Ukrainian forces to communicate beyond enemy lines and to transmit high bandwidth data. Meanwhile, the Russians were unable to locate targets because of the absence of electronic signatures.


A batch of 60 Starlink test satellites stacked atop a Falcon 9 rocket, close to be put in orbit (Official SpaceX Photos, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons). Source:
A batch of 60 Starlink test satellites stacked atop a Falcon 9 rocket is close to being put in orbit (Official SpaceX Photos, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)