The donations of Starlink satellite service by SpaceX to Ukraine may not last long.
According to documents obtained by CNN, SpaceX sent a letter to the Defense Department in September claiming that the company is “not in a position” to fund Starlink internet in Ukraine as it has in the past without tens of millions of dollars in monthly funding.
The company estimated that data access for the Ukrainian government and military would cost $124 million for the rest of 2022 and nearly $380 million per year, and asked the Pentagon to assume responsibility for that funding.
Elon Musk elaborated on the reasoning in a Friday tweet. Musk claimed that SpaceX couldn’t afford to fund the current infrastructure “indefinitely” while also delivering more Starlink terminals and managing data use “100X greater” than typical homes.
Satellite technology can be used to provide data to cell towers and other civilian networks that serve a large number of people, in addition to coordinating Ukrainian military campaigns.
The “burn” was close to $20 million per month, according to the executive, and included the cost of defending against Russian “cyberattacks & jamming.”
Exactly. Unlike most of the other companies on the top 10 biggest defense contractors list, SpaceX is not publicly traded and doesn't have huge revenue (yet).
— Sawyer Merritt (@SawyerMerritt) October 14, 2022
However, the documents appear to contradict one of Musk’s earlier claims.
Whereas he stated last week that only a “small percentage” of Starlink terminals and services were funded by outside sources, the letter suggests that approximately 85 per cent of the 20,000 Ukraine systems at the time (now 25,000) were at least partially funded by the US, Poland, and others.
According to a leak in April, the US had already spent millions of dollars to get Starlink hardware to Ukraine. Nonetheless, resources may have been limited.
In July, Ukrainian commander General Valerii Zaluzhniy asked Musk directly for close to 8,000 additional terminals, but SpaceX responded by directing the military leader to the Defense Department.
The letter arrives at a bad time for Musk. He recently drew criticism from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and diplomat Andrij Melnyk for proposing a peace deal that included ceding Crimea to Russia.
Musk even joked that his company was “just following [Melnyk’s] recommendation” to “fuck off” in response to the proposal.
We’d add that Musk’s net worth of roughly $220 billion is greater than Ukraine’s GDP in 2021 — there have been numerous calls for Musk to personally fund the Starlink service. There are questions about SpaceX’s commitment to Ukraine’s fight against Russia, and the funding request doesn’t help matters.
Visit ravzgadget.com to read more stories about technology news and reviews. Accept the push notification and leave a comment beneath the posts.