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.
“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
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
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
took to Twitter to question Mr. Musk’s allegiances. A spokesman for Mr. Zelensky didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
—Micah Maidenberg contributed to this article.
Write to Matthew Luxmoore at [email protected]
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