Pentagon in talks to fund Ukrainian troop access to Musk’s Starlink | Financial Times

US weighing aid request after SpaceX boss complains of cost of providing internet service to frontline forces

by UKCHP_Admin

The Pentagon is in talks with Elon Musk’s Starlink mobile internet system to keep connectivity for Ukrainian forces, after the billionaire Tesla chief complained he was burning through nearly $20mn a month funding the service.

The negotiations come after came after Musk’s private space company, SpaceX, wrote to the defence department asking for financial support. The letter was first reported by CNN.

Sabrina Singh, the Pentagon’s deputy press secretary, acknowledged discussing payments with Musk’s company, adding US officials were “in communication with SpaceX about this and other topics”.

But she added SpaceX was not the only option available to help the Ukrainian military in its battlefield communications.

“There are certainly other Satcom capabilities that exist out there,” she added. “There’s not just SpaceX, there are other entities that we can certainly partner with.”

The Tesla and SpaceX chief wrote on Twitter that it was “insanely difficult” for a low-earth-orbit “communications constellation to avoid bankruptcy — that was the fate of every company that tried this before”.

Musk won widespread acclaim earlier this year after intervening to bring internet service to Ukraine, but his involvement has become politically charged in the past week after the world’s richest man called for a negotiated settlement to end the war. His plan, which included allowing Russia to keep Crimea, was denounced by Ukraine’s leaders.

The Financial Times also revealed that some Starlink terminals used by Ukraine’s military had stopped working in areas recently liberated from Russian occupation, raising questions about whether Starlink was blocking the service to some parts of the front lines.

SpaceX request for financial support from Washington provided fresh ammunition to Musk’s pro-Ukrainian critics, who have opposed his position on peace talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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