Taiwan seeks satellite constellation similar to Elon Musk’s Starlink
Taipei is currently in talks with a few domestic and international investors to raise funds for the satellite.
Taiwan is searching for investors to create a satellite communications provider, inspired by Elon Musk's Starlink in Ukraine, in order to repel the alleged risk of Chinese attacks, The Financial Times reported on Friday, referencing three individuals familiar with the matter.
Taipei is currently in talks with a few domestic and international investors to raise funds for the project, according to the Times, with the Taiwan Space Agency (TASA) eyeing to use its existing satellite division for the project.
"We are going to spin our low-Earth orbit satellite communications project off into a company," a senior official at TASA told the media.
Audrey Tang, the digital minister of Taiwan, said the project was inspired by Starlink. "We look at the Russian invasion of Ukraine and how Starlink has been used very successfully," the newspaper quoted the minister.
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Tang added that it would take several years to bring the project to life.
"Our primary concern ... is facilitating the societal resilience, to make sure for example that journalists can send videos to ... international viewers even during a large-scale disaster," Tang said, adding that the system would also support "telephoning and videoconferencing — think [Ukrainian president Volodymyr] Zelensky's daily addresses."
SpaceX intends to run a network of 29,988 non-geostationary orbit satellites for its Starlink constellation, which will provide internet access to areas with limited or no access. Starlink currently has approximately 3,500 satellites in low-Earth orbit.
Elon Musk previously said he cannot keep funding the project in Ukraine, but then took back his words and tweeted his commitment to keep funding "even though Starlink is losing money."
The hell with it … even though Starlink is still losing money & other companies are getting billions of taxpayer $, we’ll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 15, 2022
Starlink's importance to Ukraine
There are terminals in Ukraine that Starlink sends high-speed internet to from very low orbits. The high-speed internet has been very beneficial for Ukraine, with Musk coming together with the US government to give Kiev access to the service for free - the US paid for the majority of the terminals and Musk waived the usual monthly fees.
Starlink "changed the course of the war to Ukraine’s advantage," said Mykhailo Fedorov, a deputy prime minister.
Read next: Over 1,570 Starlink terminals arrive in Ukraine from Poland
Starlink is of such importance that Ukraine's train system depends on it, and so does the government, as it uses it to transmit communications, including Zelensky's broadcasts.
Most importantly, Starlink serves as a secure form of communication on the frontline for mobile command posts and drones, among many other things.