Starlink is seen on a mobile device with Ukraine on a map in the background in this illustrative photo in Warsaw, Poland on September 21, 2022.

STR | Nurphoto | Getty Images

House Democrat Robert Garcia, D-Calif. and Jamie Raskin, D-Md., sent a letter to SpaceX demanding transparency from the defense contractor following reports of potentially illegal purchases and use of Starlink satellite internet equipment by Russia in the occupied territories of Ukraine.

The more congressmen announced investigation of SpaceX by the House Democratic Committee on the company’s safeguards and procedures to prevent the illegal export and use of its Starlink equipment and services. The Washington Post first reported about the probe and a March 6 letter to SpaceX President and COO Gwynn Shotwell.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk enjoyed accolades for providing Starlink terminals and satellite Internet service in the early days of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, while Western governments and NGOs worked to supply Kiev with air defense systems and critical assistance.

Musk later said, “Starlink is not meant to be involved in wars. It was so people could watch Netflix and relax, go online for school and do good peaceful things, not drone strikes,” according to an authorized biography of the tech mogul by Walter Isaacson.

The book also says Musk ordered SpaceX engineers to shut down the Starlink satellite network over Crimea to thwart a Ukrainian attack on Russian warships.

When the book was published in 2023, this information — the accuracy of which Musk has denied — drew the ire of Ukrainian officials, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Kyiv’s General Intelligence Directorate (GID) said in February that there was growing evidence of Starlink use by Russian forces in Ukraine’s partially occupied eastern Donetsk region.

In a statement Thursday, the congressmen wrote: “Russia’s use of Starlink satellite terminals would be inconsistent with US export controls that prohibit Russia from acquiring and using US-made technology.”

House Democrats aren’t the only elected officials demanding more transparency from SpaceX and how the company controls its vast global satellite communications network.

In February, the bipartisan China Commission and its leader, Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc., sent a letter to Elon Musk demanding that U.S. troops stationed in Taiwan be given access to SpaceX’s Starshield, a satellite communications network designed specifically for the military. The lack of access could violate contractual obligations between SpaceX and the Department of Defense, Gallagher said in his letter.

At the time, the company said in an email to CNBC that “SpaceX is in full compliance with all of its contracts with the US government.”

The company did not respond before publication to a request for comment on the new investigation into Russia’s possible use of Starlink in occupied parts of Ukraine.

The new investigation by House Democrats follows news Wednesday that a New Jersey man was arrested on charges of allegedly trafficking 675 SpaceX Starlink terminals that were purchased with stolen credit card accounts or hacked Starlink billing accounts.

Police told CNBC that, along with SpaceX, they are still investigating the traffic and exactly how the purchases were made. It’s not clear where all the equipment that enables Starlink’s high-speed satellite Internet service ended up being connected.

Read the full letter to SpaceX: