SpaceX CEO Elon Musk retracts his previous statement about funding Starlink’s satellite internet service in Ukraine and says his company will “just keep funding Ukraine’s government for free,” a day after he said SpaceX would not be able to pay for Starlink in the war-torn country indefinitely.
“The hell with it …,” Musk said. “Even though Starlink is still losing money & other companies are getting billions of taxpayer $, we’ll just keep funding the Ukraine govt for free,” the tech billionaire said on Twitter Saturday.
Musk’s SpaceX reportedly sent a letter to the Pentagon last month, asking it to fund the Ukraine government and its military’s use of Starlink broadband, noting that the company could not afford to donate more terminals or pay for its operations in the country indefinitely, according to a CNN article.
“SpaceX is not asking to recoup past expenses, but also cannot fund the existing system indefinitely,” Musk said in a tweet on Friday that attracted flak from users. “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,” he said in another tweet.
On the same day, a Pentagon spokesperson speaking to reporters said it is reviewing its options. “There’s not just SpaceX, there are other entities that we can certainly partner with when it comes to providing Ukraine with what they need on the battlefield,” Pentagon’s deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said. “I’m not going to show our hand right now on exactly what those are or who we’re talking to,” she added when asked about the report.
Aside from Starlink, Viasat, another company offering satellite-based communications said it is also providing support in Ukraine, which includes free community WiFi for Ukrainian refugees in Slovakia. “We are actively working with customers and government partners to use our available capacity and terminals to quickly provide additional services in [the] country,” Daniel Bleier said.
Starlink is a satellite internet constellation under SpaceX. It currently provides satellite internet access coverage to 40 countries across the globe. The compnay has donated about 25,000 ground terminals to Ukraine since the start of the war.