Starlink and geopolitics

Geopolitics has a higher-level impact on Macroeconomics. Any student of history knows how the influence of national-level power and wars have impacted economics.

It is rare that any single person who is not a national government leader has as much potential impact as Elon Musk. Starlink communications has become an essential factor in Ukraine’s strategy against the Russian invasion.

Elon Musk’s Unmatched Power in the Stars

The tech billionaire has become the dominant power in satellite internet technology. The ways he is wielding that influence are raising global alarms.

By Adam Satariano, Scott Reinhard, Cade Metz, Sheera Frenkel and Malika Khurana, The New York Times, July 28, 2023

Mr. Musk, who leads SpaceX, Tesla and Twitter, has become the most dominant player in space as he has steadily amassed power over the strategically significant field of satellite internet. Yet faced with little regulation and oversight, his erratic and personality-driven style has increasingly worried militaries and political leaders around the world, with the tech billionaire sometimes wielding his authority in unpredictable ways.

Since 2019, Mr. Musk has sent SpaceX rockets into space nearly every week that deliver dozens of sofa-size satellites into orbit. The satellites communicate with terminals on Earth, so they can beam high-speed internet to nearly every corner of the planet. Today, more than 4,500 Starlink satellites are in the skies, accounting for more than 50 percent of all active satellites. They have already started changing the complexion of the night sky, even before accounting for Mr. Musk’s plans to have as many as 42,000 satellites in orbit in the coming years…

Starlink is often the only way to get internet access in war zones, remote areas and places hit by natural disasters. It is used in Ukraine for coordinating drone strikes and intelligence gathering. Activists in Iran and Turkey have sought to use the service as a hedge against government controls. The U.S. Defense Department is a big Starlink customer, while other militaries, such as in Japan, are testing the technology.

But Mr. Musk’s near total control of satellite internet has raised alarms… Few nations will speak publicly about their concerns, for fear of alienating Mr. Musk, said intelligence and cybersecurity officials briefed on the conversations…[end quote]

Reusable SpaceX rockets launch Starlink satellites into low earth orbit. Launches happen nearly every week, and about 60 satellites are released into orbit each time.

The European Union, China and Taiwan are involved in this story as well as Ukraine. The EU and China are planning their own satellite internet. Africa is dependent on Starlink for internet.



No unelected person should have that much power.


Reminds me very much of the movie WALL-E. A giant corporation, Buy n Large, has taken over managing the entire earth, eventually making it uninhabitable.

The movie has one of the best opening sequences I’ve ever seen. 10 minutes (or perhaps longer) with no dialogue, just following the title character around as we observe his day, setting the scene for the entire film. There are a couple of words used - one bit as an announcement runs in the background on a video screen, and the other as a short clip from Hello, Dolly! But no actual dialogue between characters. (Although one might argue that clips from Hello, Dolly! become a character in their own right.)

Perhaps a little bit of life imitating art.



One of the most important and gorgeous pieces of art of my lifetime.

thanks for punching up the memory

david fb

People can mistake most Pixar movies (particularly the older ones) as kid’s stuff. They’re really movies for adults that kids can watch, too.

The only better opening of a film is UP. Telling a lifetime love story in 15 minutes or so - again without words.

And the kids wonder why their parents are crying before the movie gets started. :wink:



The president under the war powers act has the ability to order Musk to relent. The Pentagon is paying Musk at this point. Such a decision should not at this point be in Musk’s hands.

I hope he gets resources deeply stuck in China and then wrecked by the Chinese government. Then he can grow up. Making a major decision and knowing the consequences are two entirely different things. While they should line up…we can see on X Musk messes around far to much.

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  • To achieve interplanetary flight in the future, SpaceX needed to find a way to make money in the present. So in 2015, Mr. Musk announced Starlink, seeking to tap into the lucrative market of providing internet service, in this case through a constellation of low-orbit satellites. The service has become a vital lifeline to people in war zones and helped the Ukrainian military defend against Russian invasion. But Mr. Musk has also been criticized for not allowing Ukraine to use the service to launch a drone attack on a Russian naval base last year, fearing that it would have provoked a major escalation in the war. “We did not want to be a part of that,” Mr. Musk said.

There is another way for Ukraine to proceed. Launching a disposable balloon in the vicinity of a drone attack to establish the radio link needed. I believe Starlink came with routers that might be useful for this. Before going this route Ukraine should buy up the needed equipment and divide up where it is stored. Then cutting off the supply of equipment is useless.

It is a matter of how many fingerprints we have on the battle. But really we have both hands in the battle.