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HomeNewsElon Musk Says SpaceX Can’t Fund Starlink Internet Service in Ukraine ‘Indefinitely’

Elon Musk Says SpaceX Can’t Fund Starlink Internet Service in Ukraine ‘Indefinitely’


KYIV, Ukraine—

Elon Musk

said the cost of maintaining Starlink terminals in Ukraine is approaching $20 million a month and SpaceX can’t fund the service indefinitely.

The Starlink terminals, produced by Mr. Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, have played a crucial role in maintaining Ukraine’s communications during the war with Russia. The terminals are deployed on hundreds of Ukrainian military outposts around the front lines, allowing commanders to call in artillery strikes and to coordinate operations in areas where mobile-phone services are disabled or jammed by Russia.

Mr. Musk has said the operation in Ukraine has cost SpaceX $80 million and will exceed $100 million by the end of the year. In a series of tweets Friday, he said SpaceX couldn’t keep funding the program’s running costs on its own. SpaceX didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Starlink services have helped Ukrainians communicate in areas where mobile-phone services are disabled or jammed by Russia.


Serhii Korovayny for The Wall Street Journal

“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,” Mr. Musk, who is also chief executive of

Tesla Inc.,


In addition to the cost of terminals, he said SpaceX has had to create, launch, maintain and replenish satellites, ground stations and pay telecommunications companies for certain internet access. “We’ve also had to defend against cyberattacks & jamming, which are getting harder. Burn is approaching ~$20M/month,” he tweeted.

The issue of Starlink’s costs comes after a public spat between Mr. Musk and Ukrainian officials over a different matter. Last week, Mr. Musk suggested on Twitter that Ukraine give up swaths of its territory in concession to Russia’s invasion, provoking an uproar among Ukrainians who said it parroted the Kremlin.

Mr. Musk said that the Crimean Peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014 is part of Russia, and proposed a referendum in occupied parts of Ukraine on which country they should belong to.

The tweets were praised in Moscow, while Ukrainian President

Volodymyr Zelensky

took to Twitter to question Mr. Musk’s allegiances.

Elon Musk has suggested that Ukraine offer territorial concessions to Russia.



Mykhailo Podolyak,

an adviser to Mr. Zelensky, said Friday that Kyiv would find a solution to keep Starlink working in Ukraine and expected SpaceX to maintain service in the interim.

“Like it or not, [Mr. Musk] helped us survive the most critical moments of war,” Mr. Podolyak wrote on Twitter. “Business has the right to its own strategies.”

Write to Matthew Luxmoore at [email protected]

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