In reversal, Musk to continue funding Starlink in Ukraine
Elon Musk said on Oct. 15 that his company SpaceX will continue to pay for Starlink satellite internet in war-torn Ukraine, one day after the tech mogul suggested he could not keep funding the project.
Starlink, a constellation of more than 3,000 small satellites in low Earth orbit, has been vital to Ukraine’s communications as it battles Russia.
But Musk has found himself embroiled of late in public spats with Ukrainian leaders who were angered by his controversial proposals for de-escalating the conflict, which included acknowledging Russian sovereignty over Crimea.
“The hell with it,” Musk, the world’s richest man, wrote on Twitter.
“Even though Starlink is still losing money & other companies are getting billions of taxpayer $, we’ll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free.”
In a series of tweets on Oct. 14, Musk had detailed the logistics of the operation and said it was costing SpaceX nearly $20 million per month, and suggested the company could not fund it indefinitely.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military confirmed it was communicating with the billionaire’s company about funding for the key network.
“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,” he said on Oct. 14.
“This is unreasonable.”
SpaceX has donated some 25,000 ground terminals to Ukraine, according to an updated figure given by Musk last week.
He says the operation has already cost SpaceX $80 million, and that total is projected to exceed $100 million by the end of the year.
Musk also appeared to confirm a report by CNN saying he had written to the Pentagon warning that his financial contributions would come to an end, and that the military would need to foot the bill.