SpaceX CEO Elon Musk during a conversation with Brazilian officials about a possible deal for the company to provide satellite internet in the Amazon rainforest and expose illegal logging, Brazil said Wednesday. Brazil’s Communications Minister Fabio Faria met with a billionaire tech giant on Monday in Austin, Texas about a possible link SpaceX would use to deliver its Starlink satellite internet service to schools and health centers in remote areas, the ministry said.
SpaceX will also use its satellites to assist police in destroying the world’s largest rainforest, the ministry added. “We talk about environmental issues and connect people in rural schools in Brazil,” Faria said in a video posted on Twitter after the meeting.
“I’m very excited to partner with Starlink and SpaceX and Brazil. Elon Musk said he looks forward to ensuring connectivity to Brazil’s most vulnerable people and helping” ensure the preservation of the Amazon. ”
A ministry spokesman told AFP the meeting was a “first step” and there was no date for the signing of the agreement. Starlink uses a “constellation” of more than 1,500 low-orbit satellites to provide Internet services accessible from most of the planet, including remote areas such as the Amazon, 60 percent of which are in Brazil.
This service has the potential to lead to a connectivity revolution in Brazil, where some 40 million people do not have access to the internet – about 19 percent of the population.
Faria said talks with US aerospace companies were aimed at bringing internet access to all rural schools in Brazil, as well as other remote areas.
The meeting comes as President Jair Bolsonaro’s government seeks to combat international criticism that it has increased deforestation in the Amazon, a vital resource in the race to curb climate change.
Since the far-right president took office in 2019, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has increased from an average of 6,500 square kilometers (2,500 square miles) per year over the past decade to about 10,000, according to government data based on satellite imagery.