Wed. Sep 27th, 2023
Democratic Senators Demand Investigation into SpaceX’s Restriction of Ukrainian Access to Satellite Network

Last week, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren called for an investigation into Elon Musk’s SpaceX. This came after Musk admitted to blocking Ukraine from extending the private Starlink satellite network for a potential attack on Russian warships. Warren’s demand for answers quickly gained support from other Democratic members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In a letter addressed to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Senators Warren, Jeanne Shaheen, and Tammy Duckworth sought clarification on whether Elon Musk or other commercial satellite providers restricted the Ukrainian military’s access to communication networks. They also questioned whether the Defense Department has the authority to intervene in such matters.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed also expressed concern over the situation surrounding Starlink, stating that it exposed “serious national-security liability issues.” Reed emphasized the committee’s commitment to thoroughly investigating the matter, including examining the broader satellite market, government contracting, and the significant role played by Musk and SpaceX.

Reed stressed that national security decisions cannot be left solely in the hands of private citizens like Elon Musk, emphasizing the need for transparency and accountability. The senators called for clarity on the conflicting accounts surrounding the reported incident involving the Ukrainian attack and Musk’s involvement.

Additionally, the senators urged the Defense Department to outline the measures being taken to prevent further interference in sensitive matters. They expressed concern about the potential dangers resulting from unchecked meddling.

While Republican lawmakers have not expressed similar concerns, their minority status on the Senate Armed Services Committee will not impede the ongoing investigation. The committee remains committed to uncovering the truth and addressing any national-security implications arising from SpaceX’s actions.

It is worth noting that this controversy was sparked by revelations in Walter Isaacson’s biography of Musk. The book detailed Musk’s alleged intervention to prevent the Ukrainian attack on Russian navy ships by restricting Ukraine’s access to his Starlink satellite network. Musk, however, denied disabling Starlink over Crimea, asserting that he had declined a request from Ukraine to provide coverage in the region.