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SpaceX’s Starlink starts work restoring internet access to volcano-hit Tonga after Elon Musk offered to help

A satellite image showing the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano before its major eruption, alongside a picture of SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk.

Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS/Mike Brown

  • Elon Musk’s SpaceX is restoring Tonga’s internet following a volcanic eruption, per a Fiji official.
  • It comes more than two weeks after Musk offered to send Starlink terminals to Tonga.
  • The volcanic eruption, and subsequent tsunami, cut off the island’s communication links.

A team from SpaceX’s Starlink is in the process of restoring internet access to Tonga following CEO Elon Musk’s offer to help reinstate connectivity cut off by a volcanic eruption.

“A SpaceX team is now in Fiji establishing a Starlink gateway station to reconnect Tonga to the world,” Fiji’s attorney-general Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum posted on Twitter on Monday.

Tonga was hit by an undersea volcanic eruption January 15, which subsequently triggered a tsunami. It severed the island’s 827 km (514 miles) undersea internet cable, cutting off the country’s communication links to the rest of the world.

Sayed-Khaiyum’s tweet comes more than two weeks after Musk offered to send Starlink terminals to Tonga to help get the country back online.

Musk tweeted that setting up internet in Tonga would be “hard” because there were not enough satellites with laser links and there were already geostationary satellites that connect to the island.

Sayed-Khaiyum told the Fijian Broadcasting Corporation Friday that SpaceX engineers will operate a ground station in Fiji for six months.

SpaceX didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment made outside of US operating hours.

SpaceX has more than 1,800 Starlink satellites in orbit. The network operates in 25 countries and serves over 145,000 users globally, according to a CNBC report from early January.

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