Replace, October 15, 5:57pm EDT: In a tweet early Saturday afternoon, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk introduced that satellite-based ISP Starlink will proceed offering Web service to Ukrainian forces battling the Russian invasion in addition to the nation’s authorities. “The hell with it … although Starlink continues to be dropping cash & different corporations are getting billions of taxpayer $, we’ll simply preserve funding Ukraine govt free of charge,” Musk tweeted.
Authentic story: SpaceX has requested the Pentagon to fund the Ukraine authorities and navy’s use of Starlink broadband, saying the Elon Musk-led firm cannot afford to donate extra consumer terminals or pay for operations indefinitely, CNN reported.
“We’re not able to additional donate terminals to Ukraine, or fund the prevailing terminals for an indefinite time frame,” SpaceX’s director of presidency gross sales wrote to the Pentagon in a September letter, in line with CNN. The letter “requested that the Pentagon take over funding for Ukraine’s authorities and navy use of Starlink, which SpaceX claims would price greater than $120 million for the remainder of the yr and will price near $400 million for the subsequent 12 months.”
Musk defended the request right this moment. “SpaceX is just not asking to recoup previous bills, but additionally can’t fund the prevailing system indefinitely and ship a number of thousand extra terminals which have knowledge utilization as much as 100X higher than typical households. That is unreasonable,” he wrote on Twitter.
The CNN article stated that “roughly 20,000 Starlink satellite tv for pc models have been donated to Ukraine” and that the Ukraine navy requested for 8,000 extra in July.
Musk: Operation has price SpaceX $80 million
SpaceX’s Starlink division despatched satellite tv for pc terminals to Ukraine after Russia’s invasion of the nation disrupted broadband networks, and the Web entry has been helpful in Ukraine’s navy operations in opposition to Russian forces. The US initially supplied $3 million for the hassle.
Musk wrote final week that “solely a small share” of Starlink terminals and repair had been paid for by exterior sources and that the “operation has price SpaceX $80M & will exceed $100M by finish of yr.”
In accordance with CNN’s article, the SpaceX letter to the Pentagon stated “about 85 p.c of the 20,000 terminals in Ukraine had been paid—or partially paid—for by international locations just like the US and Poland or different entities. These entities additionally paid for about 30 p.c of the Web connectivity, which SpaceX says prices $4,500 every month per unit for probably the most superior service.”
The $4,500-per-month determine appears to discuss with the standard payment for that tier of service, reasonably than to SpaceX’s precise prices to offer it.
“SpaceX says it has paid for about 70 p.c of the service supplied to Ukraine and claims to have provided that highest degree —$4,500 a month—to all terminals in Ukraine regardless of the bulk solely having signed on for the cheaper $500 monthly service,” CNN wrote. “The terminals themselves price $1,500 and $2,500 for the 2 fashions despatched to Ukraine, the paperwork say, whereas client fashions on Starlink’s web site are far cheaper and repair in Ukraine is simply $60 monthly.”
SpaceX request “rankled” Pentagon brass
The funding request appears to have triggered a battle between SpaceX and the Pentagon. “SpaceX’s request that the US navy foot the invoice has rankled high brass on the Pentagon, with one senior protection official telling CNN that SpaceX has ‘the gall to appear to be heroes’ whereas having others pay a lot and now presenting them with a invoice for tens of tens of millions monthly,” CNN wrote.
The Pentagon took a extra measured tone publicly. “I can affirm that the division has been in communication with SpaceX concerning Starlink,” Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh stated, in line with the Monetary Instances. “We’re working with our companions and allies attempting to determine what’s greatest.”
“There are definitely different Satcom capabilities that exist on the market,” she additionally stated. “There’s not simply SpaceX, there are different entities that we are able to definitely associate with in the case of offering Ukraine with what they want on the battlefield.”
On October 3, after Musk wrote a controversial tweet proposing phrases for a Ukraine-Russia peace, Ukrainian diplomat Andrij Melnyk instructed Musk to “fuck off.” Whereas SpaceX’s letter to the Pentagon was despatched months earlier than that Twitter change, Musk right this moment replied to a journalist who instructed the funding request and Melnyk’s tweet to Musk had been related. “We’re simply following his suggestion,” Musk wrote.
Melnyk’s Twitter profile says he’s Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany. However he was fired from that submit in July, “every week after the diplomat gave an interview through which he defended the legacy of a World Warfare II nationalist chief who collaborated with the Nazis,” The New York Instances reported on the time.
Some Ukrainians pay for Starlink themselves
Amid the funding battle, some Ukrainians tweeted about how they and Ukraine troopers have been paying for Starlink service themselves.
“All of the Starlinks I’ve seen/used had been purchased both by volunteers like myself, or troopers put their private cash in. The subscription value can be paid out of the pocket. In my charity fund @dzygaspaw, I’ve purchased and delivered to the frontlines over 50 Starlinks, a few of them are nonetheless being paid from my bank card, now $60 every monthly,” Dimko Zhluktenko wrote.
CNN’s article on the SpaceX letter to the Pentagon stated there have been “wide-ranging Starlink outages as Ukrainian troops try and retake floor occupied by Russia within the jap and southern components of the nation.”
“That has affected each effort of the Ukrainians to push previous that entrance,” CNN quoted a supply as saying. “Starlink is the principle means models on the battlefield have to speak.”