SpaceX has sent a letter to the Pentagon asking them to pick up the tab for funding the aerospace giant’s Starlink satellite internet service in Ukraine.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk said in an Oct. 7 tweet that Starlink in Ukraine has cost the company $80 million and will exceed $100 million by the end of the year. The letter, which was obtained and first reported by CNN, claims it would cost more than $120 million to fund Starlink in Ukraine for the rest of the year and could cost close to $400 million for the next 12 months.
“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,” Musk wrote in a tweet Friday. “This is unreasonable.”
In addition to the terminals, Musk emphasized that SpaceX has to create, launch, maintain and replenish satellites and ground stations, pay telecommunications companies for internet access via gateways and defend against cyberattacks and jamming.
“Burn is approaching ~$20M/month,” he added.
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SpaceX has sent roughly 20,000 Starlink terminals to Ukraine to date.
Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh confirmed that the Department of Defense received SpaceX’s letter.
“We remain in communication with SpaceX about this and other topics,” Singh said.
The letter comes after Musk caused a firestorm on Twitter earlier this month when he tweeted out a poll asking respondents to weigh in on a series of proposals to obtain Ukraine-Russia peace.
The proposal included redoing elections of annexed regions under UN supervision, making Crimea formally part of Russia, assuring the water supply to Crimea and Ukraine remaining neutral. About 59% of respondents voted no, while 40.9% of respondents voted yes.
Musk said that such a scenario was “highly likely” to be the outcome of the Russia-Ukraine war, noting it was “just a question of how many die before then.” He also argued that nuclear war was “a possible, albeit unlikely, outcome” of the conflict.
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Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued his own Twitter poll asking “which @elonmusk do you like more?” with the options including one who supports Ukraine and one who supports Russia.
Musk responded to the poll, writing, “I still very much support Ukraine, but am convinced that massive escalation of the war will cause great harm to Ukraine and possibly the world.”
Meanwhile, Ukrainian ambassador to Germany Andrij Melnyk responded to Musk’s poll, tweeting, “F— off is my very diplomatic response to you.”
“The only outcome is that now no Ukrainian will EVER buy your f…ing Tesla crap,” he added in a separate tweet. “So good luck to you.”
On Friday, Musk said SpaceX was just following Melynk’s recommendation after the Pentagon letter surfaced.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Friday that Musk has helped Ukraine “survive the most critical moments of the war” and that the country will find a solution to keep Starlink working.
“We expect that the company will provide stable connection till the end of negotiations,” Podolyak added.
“The Department continues to work with industry to explore solutions for Ukraine’s armed forces as they repel Russia’s brutal and unprovoked aggression,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told FOX Business.
SpaceX, which did not immediately return FOX Business’ request for comment, has launched over 3,000 Starlink satellites to date. Starlink, which is available on all seven continents including Antarctica, has a global user base of more than 400,000 subscribers.
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