Starlink will continue to provide free services to Ukraine • The Register

One problem with dealing with a much-tweeting billionaire is that the rug can be knocked out from under the subjects of these thought burps.

This weekend, Elon Musk, the richest being on Earth, spoke about operating SpaceX’s Starlink, a broadband satellite constellation, in a way that might unsettle some.

The comment can be interpreted as a joke or a tacit threat to remove Starlink services from Ukraine due to the costs involved. Starlink was previously denied a request from the Federal Communications Commission to receive subsidies to bring broadband to the masses of rural America.

Musk made the comments Oct. 15, a day after reports suggested the contractor was not pleased with the expense of sending base stations and providing services to war-torn Ukraine. Last week, CNN reported that Musk wants US taxpayers to pick up some of the bill.

In a letter SpaceX allegedly sent to the Department of Defense last month, Musk wants the US military to start paying a share. The cost is estimated at $120 million by the end of the year and $400 million over the next 12 months. These are significant financial drains for a private commercial enterprise, but then again, Musk has received praise for stepping in to help Ukraine.

“We are not in a position to donate more terminals to Ukraine or fund the existing terminals indefinitely,” the letter to the Pentagon said, according to CNN. The letter was apparently sent in September.

On Oct. 4, Musk said SpaceX has spent $80 million since launch in Ukraine — a number that’s difficult to verify — and he claimed Starlink is “far from cash-flow positive.”

He added as an answer on last week’s CNN story: “Plus, Starlink is still losing money!

Ukrainian General Valeri Zaluzhyni reportedly requested an additional 8,000 Starlink terminals in July.

Musk is in the form of saying stock-moving things on Twitter, like wanting to take Tesla private, buying Twitter, and launching a fragrance called Burnt Hair — The Essence of Repugnant Desire.

Not all things he says always hold up in the cold, harsh light of day, making it nearly impossible for a company or – in the case of Ukraine – a country to know exactly what is about to happen.

Knowing that the lack of clarity leaves a certain guy room to form his own opinion, Musk quipped in a follow-up tweet over the weekend, “The comments on this thread are a conspiracy theorist’s wet dream.” ® Starlink will continue to provide free services to Ukraine • The Register

Rick Schindler

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