Spacex CEO Elon Musk says that his company will “keep funding” the government of Ukraine for free even though Starlink is losing money, noting that it has cost Spacex $80 million so far to provide internet terminals and services to Ukraine. “We’ve also had to defend against cyberattacks and jamming, which are getting harder,” Musk stressed.
We’ll Keep Funding Ukraine for Free, Says Musk
Since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Spacex has provided services and sent Starlink internet terminals to Ukraine. Musk provided Ukraine Starlink internet terminals as a request from the government.
However, Spacex’s director of government sales reportedly sent a letter to the Pentagon in September, stating that the company is not “in a position to further donate terminals to Ukraine, or fund the existing terminals for an indefinite period of time.” The Pentagon reportedly confirmed they received correspondence from Spacex about the funding of the Starlink satellite communications product in Ukraine.
Musk tweeted on Oct. 7 explaining that “only a small percentage” of the Starlink terminals and services in Ukraine were paid for. Spacex chief:
This operation has cost Spacex $80M & will exceed $100M by end of year.
Replying to a question on Twitter about how much Spacex is spending “for maintaining Starlink in Ukraine,” Musk detailed: “In addition to terminals, we have to create, launch, maintain & replenish satellites & ground stations & pay telcos for access to [the]Internet via gateways. We’ve also had to defend against cyberattacks and jamming, which are getting harder. Burn is approaching ~$20M/month.”
Musk, too shared in a tweet on Oct. 9: “There are ~25k terminals in Ukraine, but each terminal can be used to provide an internet uplink to a cell phone tower, so potentially several thousand people can be served by a single terminal.”
Sawyer Merritt (Twitter user, Tesla investor) commented on Spacex not being able to provide free products and service to Ukraine. opined: “Spacex’s request is reasonable. Shouldn’t expect a private sector company to continue to fund this for free forever. Are Lockheed, Boeing and Northrop doing their jobs for nothing? Spacex was generous in donating what they did and they’ll happily continue to manufacture terminals with government money.”
However, some people slammed Musk over his company’s letter to the Pentagon. Musk was then tweeted Saturday: “The hell with it … even though Starlink is still losing money & other companies are getting billions of taxpayer $, we’ll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free.”
Although it was unclear whether Musk was making fun of Spacex’s Ukrainian customers, or if he was just being facetious, the CEO of Tesla did not seem to be sarcastic. Responding to a tweet about the move, Musk clarified: “we should still do good deeds.”
Musk explained on Oct. 14 that there is a “big difference” between peace communications and warfront communications. “Starlink is [the] only comms system still working at warfront — others [are] all dead. Russia has actively sought to eliminate Starlink. Spacex has used huge resources to defend itself. Even so, Starlink may still die,” he cautioned. Spacex boss described in a follow-up tweet: “Internet fiber, phone lines, cell towers & other space-based comms in war areas have been destroyed. Starlink is all that’s left. For now.”
Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s vice prime minister and the minister of digital transformation, tweeted on Oct. 14: “Definitely, Elon Musk is among the world’s top private donors supporting Ukraine. Starlink is an essential element of our critical infrastructure.” He also sharedOn October 12th:
Over 100 cruise missiles struck energy and communication infrastructure. Starlink was able to quickly restore the link in crucial areas. Starlink remains an important part of critical infrastructure.
Are you a believer that Spacex and Elon Musk should pay for Starlink services and terminals in Ukraine, even though it is losing money? Comment below to let us know your thoughts.
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