A new contract with the Pentagon has secured SpaceX’s ability to provide Starlink terminals to support the war effort in Ukraine.
- The Department Of Defense has contracted SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service to provide service in Ukraine, Reuters reports.
- The contract, which comes following SpaceX’s comments that it cannot afford to provide the service indefinitely, will allow 4,000 Starlink satellites to send the service they have since last year.
- The Pentagon will be purchasing Starlink terminals to provide to Ukraine.
- SpaceX CEO Elon Musk argues that providing service to Ukraine costs the company $20 million monthly.
- The Pentagon has not released details on the nature of its agreement with SpaceX “for operational security reasons and due to the critical nature of these systems,” Bloomberg reports.
Why It’s Important
The U.S. has been a firm ally of Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in February 2022, resulting in a 16-month war, with both sides refusing to relent the conflict. SpaceX first provide internet service in April of last year, giving receiver boxes that allow Ukrainian citizens to access satellite internet and for the Ukrainian military to access the service.
SpaceX began to backtrack its support in October, with Musk noting that the cost of providing the service was expensive. The company began taking punitive measures in February to prevent the military from using the service, which drew scrutiny from an advisor to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who argued that SpaceX needs to decide which side of the war effort it supports.
The Pentagon, which has already collaborated with SpaceX on numerous projects and rocket launches, stepping in to support SpaceX will help ease the costs for the company and reduce disagreements.
“We continue to work with a range of global partners to ensure Ukraine has the resilient satellite and communication capabilities they need. Satellite communications constitute a vital layer in Ukraine’s overall communications network, and the department contracts with Starlink for services of this type,” says a Pentagon statement.
Musk and SpaceX have not been the only Americans weary of supporting the war effort. Numerous Republican politicians running in the upcoming 2024 election have outlined criticisms of the ongoing war effort and of the U.S.’s current stances in the conflict. Watchdog groups have similarly criticized the state department’s limited ability to track relief funds and where they are being spent.