Elon Musk signs deal with Brazil to connect rural areas with Starlink satellites

Elon Musk signs deal with Brazil to connect rural areas with Starlink satellites
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Elon Musk’s Starlink has announced a partnership with the Brazilian government to operate satellites in the Amazon rainforest.

The billionaire claims Starlink, a space-based system to bring internet access to underserved areas of the world, will help connect thousands of unconnected schools in rural areas and help monitor and protect the Amazon rainforest.

The SpaceX and Tesla chief tweeted: “Super excited to be in Brazil for launch of Starlink for 19,000 unconnected schools in rural areas & environmental monitoring of Amazon!”

The billionaire, who is currently in talks to buy social network Twitter for $44bn, met with Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro, to discuss the protection of the Amazon and rural internet connectivity.

The trip came as Mr Musk also strongly defended himself against accusations he sexually harassed a flight attendant on a 2016 private jet flight to London.

The Amazon rainforest is one of the planet’s richest areas for biodiversity and its trees are crucial to slowing down climate change because they absorb carbon dioxide.

Deforestation of the Amazon has boomed under Brazil’s right-wing president, who took office in 2019 having pledged to develop the Amazon, dismissing global concerns about its destruction. Since then, Mr Bolsonaro’s government has boosted mining, cattle-ranching, and logging in the rainforest.

At the end of last year, deforestation in the Amazon reached a 15-year-high after it jumped 22 per cent in a year, according to official data. Then in January, new satellite data revealed that an estimated 166 square miles of forest was cleared in one month - more than five times the number of trees cut down as in the same period the year before.

Brazil has the seventh-largest lithium reserve in the world. Last year Tesla announced its interest in using lithium iron phosphate batteries for its electric vehicles.