SpaceX chief Elon Musk says “to hell with it”, the company will continue to fund the Starlink satellite service in Ukraine after saying it could not fund it indefinitely and asked the Pentagon to help with in funds.
Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite broadband service, has been critical for Ukraine’s communications since the outset of Russia’s invasion in February and subsequent attacks on critical infrastructure, including internet networks.
SpaceX donated thousands of terminals to Ukraine in February. The service usually costs $600 for the terminal and $110 a month for the connection. According to CNN, SpaceX’s director of government sales wrote a letter to the Pentagon in September requesting it to provide funds for Ukraine’s government and military use of Starlink.
Musk last week said in a tweet it was unreasonable for SpaceX to fund the existing system in Ukraine indefinitely as well as send more terminals that use a lot more data than typical households.
“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,” said Musk.
SpaceX claimed it would cost over $120 million for the rest of 2022 and could cost almost $400 million for the next 12 months. SpaceX has supplied about 20,000 terminals to Ukraine since Musk’s announcement in February. Ukraine officials asked for 8,000 more Starlink terminals in July.
Starlink is reportedly critical for Ukraine’s battlefield communications. But after CNN’s report, Musk appears to have changed his mind.
“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,” Musk said in a tweet on Saturday.
He added that the company “should still do good deeds”.
SpaceX does a lot of business with the US government, most notably via NASA, but also through other agencies. Musk annoyed Ukraine’s leaders and others earlier this month after posting a controversial Twitter poll with his some ideas for ending Russia’s invasion.