Elon Musk has warned the pentagon that his rocket company, SpaceX, cannot continue to provide Starlink satellite services to Ukraine unless the military also contributes tens of millions in funding. The world’s richest man made similar remarks in a tweet on Friday, saying that bearing the financial burden of providing such coverage to the invaded nation couldn’t continue “indefinitely.”
“SpaceX is not asking to recoup past expenses, but also cannot fund the existing system indefinitely *and* send several thousand more terminals that have data usage up to 100X greater than typical households,” Must wrote. “This is unreasonable.”
SpaceX is not asking to recoup past expenses, but also cannot fund the existing system indefinitely *and* send several thousand more terminals that have data usage up to 100X greater than typical households. This is unreasonable.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 14, 2022
The Ukrainian army has relied on Starlink’s satellite internet terminals since 20,000 of them were delivered last February, and cutting them off now would have grievous affects on the Ukraine army’s communications.
“This operation has cost SpaceX $80M & will exceed $100M by end of year,” Musk tweeted October 7.
As CNN reports, SpaceX sent a letter to the Pentagon last month outlining that it could not continue to provide the Starlink service in its current form. The letter asked that the Pentagon take on funding for the Ukrainian government and military use of Starlink. The cost, Spacex said, would be about $120 million for the rest of 2022 and roughly $400 million over the next 12 months.
“We are not in a position to further donate terminals to Ukraine, or fund the existing terminals for an indefinite period of time,” SpaceX’s director of government sales wrote to the Pentagon.
While SpaceX often characterizes Starlink’s service in Ukraine as a charitable act, it has taken donations itself to fund the project. As the Washington Post has reported, the government has paid millions of dollars to SpaceX for “equipment and transportation” costs to cover Starlink.