Musk says Starlink cannot be funded in Ukraine indefinitely

Musk says Starlink cannot be funded in Ukraine indefinitely


Elon Musk on Friday said his company SpaceX is unable to fund the Starlink satellite internet network over Ukraine indefinitely, amid reports he has asked the US military to foot the bill.

The move comes as Musk has been embroiled in public rows with Ukrainian leaders, who were angered by his controversial proposals to de-escalate the conflict, which included recognizing Russian sovereignty over Crimea.

Starlink, a constellation of over 3,000 small satellites in low Earth orbit, has been vital to Ukraine’s war effort against Russia, with SpaceX donating around 25,000 ground terminals, according to an updated figure from Musk last week.

In a series of tweets, the world’s richest man appeared to confirm a report by CNN saying he had warned the Pentagon that its financial contributions were ending and that they would have to foot the bill.

“SpaceX isn’t requiring to recoup past expenses, but neither can it fund the existing system indefinitely *and* broadcast several thousand more terminals that have up to 100 times the data usage of typical households,” he tweeted.

According to Musk, Operation SpaceX has already cost $80 million and is expected to surpass $100 million by the end of the year.

But CNN said SpaceX figures shared with the Pentagon show that about 85 percent of Ukraine’s first 20,000 terminals were at least partially paid for by countries like the US, Poland or other entities.

They also paid for about 30 percent of the internet connection.

– ‘Following his recommendation’ –

In late-night replies to Twitter on Friday, Musk expanded on the logistics of the operation.

“In addition to terminals, we have to create, launch, maintain and replenish satellites and ground stations, and pay telecom companies to access the Internet through gateways,” he said.

“We also had to defend against cyber attacks and jamming, which are getting tougher all the time. Burn approaching ~$20M/month.”

Musk recently clashed with Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, after proposing a peace deal that included the rerun of contentious referendums in the Russian-held territories of Ukraine.

Musk’s proposals were welcomed by Russia.

In response, Kiev’s ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk chimed in, telling Musk to “fuck off.”

“We’re just following his advice,” Musk tweeted Friday along with the shrug emoji.

According to CNN, SpaceX documents sent to the Pentagon said Ukraine had requested 8,000 more Starlink terminals in July.

The Financial Times, meanwhile, has reported that Starlink outages have hit Ukrainian forces on the front lines and hampered their ability to liberate Russian-controlled areas in the east of the country, but the situation later improved.

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