Tesla CEO Elon Musk via a recent tweet disclosed that Starlink satellite internet service will continue serving Ukraine even if the company doesn’t receive any subsidies from the Ukrainian government.
In the recent Tweet, he said “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.”
A Silicon Valley investor David Sacks later responded by stating that “no good deed goes unpunished,” Musk tweeted in a reply; “Even so, we should still do good deeds.”
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Musk’s tweet to keep supplying the Ukrainian government its Starlink satellite for free was a major reversal from a statement he made earlier, where he claimed that his Starlink company could not “fund the existing system indefinitely” without some U.S. funding.
He stated that roughly 20,000 Starlink satellite units have been donated to Ukraine, with Musk disclosing that the “operation has cost SpaceX $80 million and will exceed $100 million by the end of the year.”
Musk then stated that its charitable contributions to Ukraine could be coming to an end, as SpaceX warned the Pentagon that it may stop funding the service in Ukraine unless the US military kicks in tens of millions of dollars per month.
Musk then requested that the Pentagon take over funding for Ukraine’s government and military use of Starlink, which SpaceX claims would cost more than $120 million for the rest of the year and could cost close to $400 million for the next 12 months.
“We are not in a position to further donate terminals to Ukraine, or fund the existing terminals for an indefinite period of time,” SpaceX’s director of government sales wrote to the Pentagon.
Musk’s effort began in late February, just days after Russia invaded Ukraine. He said Starlink terminals were “on the way” but provided little detail about it. Many took this minimal and rather saw it as a promotional approach to mean what it implies that SpaceX was providing the terminals itself, either gratis or with some understanding as to their purchase.
In Ukraine, the satellite service offered by Starlink is now a primary mode of online communication in the country, a consequence of Russia’s sustained attack on Ukraine’s online infrastructure. A satellite cutoff could cripple Ukraine’s military and hand a major advantage to the Kremlin.
Starlink, which has a constellation of more than 3,000 small satellites in low Earth orbit, has been vital to Ukraine’s communications as it continually fights against Russia’s invasion.