Space force

Russia jams GPS satellite signals in Ukraine, US Space Force says

Another piece of Ukraine’s space infrastructure is under attack, according to an NBC report.

Jammers from Russian forces besieging the country target Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite signals that are used for navigation, mapping and other purposes, according to the report, citing the US Space Force.

“Ukraine may not be able to use GPS because there are jammers that prevent it from receiving any usable signal,” said General David Thompson, vice chief of space operations for the Space Force, at NBC Nightly News. (opens in a new tab) Monday (April 11).

“Certainly the Russians understand the value and importance of GPS and are trying to stop others from using it,” Thompson added. He noted that Russia had not directly attacked any satellites in orbit, but that the Space Force was monitoring such possibilities.

Related: How GPS Systems Help People Navigate

Specifically, Russia is targeting the Navstar satellite system used by the United States and made openly available to many countries around the world, Thompson said. (Russia has its own independent system, called GLONASS, while the Europeans have one called Galileo and China has one called Beidou.)

Navstar uses 24 main satellites which each orbit the Earth every 12 hours. The system works by sending synchronized signals to users on Earth. Since the satellites move in different directions, the user receives their signals at slightly different times. When four satellites are available, GPS receivers can use their signals to calculate the user’s position, often within a few meters.

Ukraine is also suffering from a lack of internet connectivity following the Russian attacks, which began on February 24 and are continuing. SpaceX, at Ukraine’s request, has shipped thousands of Starlink terminals to the country to provide an independent infrastructure package.

In early March, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk noted that Starlink signals had also been scrambled, though his company is adapting. “Some Starlink terminals near conflict zones were blocked for several hours at a time,” Musk said. written via Twitter (opens in a new tab) on March 1. “Our latest software update bypasses the jamming.”

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