Since they first started arriving in Ukraine last spring, the Starlink satellite internet terminals made by Elon Musk’s SpaceX have been a vital source of communication for Ukraine’s military, allowing it to fight and stay connected even as cellular phone and internet networks have been destroyed in its war with Russia.
So far roughly 20,000 Starlink satellite units have been donated to Ukraine, with Musk tweeting on Friday the “operation has cost SpaceX $80 million and will exceed $100 million by the end of the year.”
But those charitable contributions could be coming to an end, as SpaceX has 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.
Documents obtained by CNN show that last month Musk’s SpaceX sent a letter to the Pentagon saying it can no longer continue to fund the Starlink service as it has. The letter also 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 in the September letter.
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