Yesterday Elon Musk said, he can no longer fund Starlink Internet service in Ukraine. Today he says his rocket firm SpaceX will continue funding. The billionaire had been in talks with Pentagon over how to finance the internet service to frontline troops. “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,” he tweeted.
Starlink program costs $20m per month
The Starlink program costs $20m (£18m) per month to maintain, according to Mr. Musk. He recently said SpaceX had spent $80m so far to keep Ukraine online. “In addition to terminals, we have to create, launch, maintain & replenish satellites & ground stations,” he wrote on Twitter. In addition, “We’ve also had to defend against cyberattacks & jamming, which are getting harder.” he said.
Ukraine’s vice-Prime Minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, downplayed tensions with Mr Musk, writing on Twitter that the billionaire “is among the world’s top private donors supporting Ukraine”. “Starlink is an essential element of our critical infrastructure,” he wrote.
SpaceX has donated about 25,000 ground terminals to Ukraine
SpaceX has donated about 25,000 ground terminals to Ukraine, according to an updated figure given by Musk last week. But some have complained that the company’s donation is a small portion of the actual count of Starlink terminals in use in the country, most of which are bought and paid for at market rates.
“I admire the actions of SpaceX of enabling Starlink service in Ukraine. It is a true game changer for the Ukrainian army in the open fields of no cellular, and long distances not suitable for radios, given the situation is changing quickly on the battlefield,” wrote Dimko Zhluktenko, the founder of Ukrainian military charity Dzyga’s Paw. “Despite that, I have not seen ANY StarLink which was bought by the governments, or by SpaceX. All the Starlinks I have seen/used – were bought either by volunteers like myself, or soldiers who put their personal money in. The subscription price is also paid out of pocket.”
Ukrainian activist Melaniya Podolyak added that “thousands” of Ukrainians were paying Musk’s company monthly, sharing a screenshot of her own bank account with more than £6,000 of outgoing payments to Starlink. “So the question is: did you really lose more money than you earned?”
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