Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla, has recently offered help to the volcano-hit Tonga, saying that his Starlink satellites project could aid the restoration of internet connectivity. Currently, Tonga is reeling from the undersea volcanic eruption and the tsunami wave, which has ended up destroying the sole optic fibre cable that kept the country online.
Although processes have begun to ensure the internet is restored, authorities have stated that restoring connectivity could take almost a month. Musk tweeted a reply to a post from Reuters, offering to speed up the process. He said, “Could people from Tonga let us know if it is important for SpaceX to send over Starlink terminals?”
When Tonga went offline, the entire world watched without being able to rush to help. Foreign aid has also been carefully planned since Tonga has so far avoided a coronavirus outbreak. At the time of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano eruption, news emerged that Tonga was covered in volcanic dust, which made access to clean water extremely difficult.
With connections restored, at least the world can communicate with those in Tonga and arrange for help accordingly. Musk’s offer comes in a timely fashion and befits the core aim of the Starlink project. The entrepreneur’s SpaceX venture seeks to provide internet service to parts of the earth that aren’t covered by terrestrial internet infrastructures. This is achieved through numerous satellites launched into the earth’s lower orbit.
Though Musk’s gesture is philanthropic, his Starlink project has faced a fair bit of criticism, some of it coming from China. They have complained that the billionaire’s satellites are crowding space, and Musk’s Starlink satellites have caused near-collisions with the Chinese space station.