Elon Musk said on Friday that his rocket company SpaceX could not indefinitely fund its Starlink Internet service in Ukraine, which has helped the country’s civilians and military stay online during the war with Russia. Musk’s comments on Twitter came after a media report that SpaceX asked the Pentagon to pay for the Starlink grant. The billionaire has been fighting online with Ukrainian officials over a peace plan that Ukraine says is too generous to Russia.
A senior defense official told reporters Friday that the U.S. Defense Department would not confirm whether ongoing discussions with the company were related to the payment, but that the Pentagon “continues to talk to SpaceX and other companies about SATCOM capabilities.”
The Starlink communications platform has been “exceptionally effective on the battlefield” allowing the Ukrainians to support multiple device connections in a combat environment, a senior US military official said.
The billionaire who runs Tesla said Starlink said it spends about $20 million a month to maintain satellite services in Ukraine. He recently said that SpaceX has spent about $80 million to enable and support Starlink there.
“SpaceX is not asking to recoup past costs, but cannot fund the existing system indefinitely *and* send a few thousand more terminals with 100X more data usage than a typical household. This is absurd,” Musk wrote on Twitter on Friday.”We also have to defend against cyber attacks and jamming, which are becoming more difficult,” Musk wrote.