SpaceX’s donation of Starlink internet terminals to Ukraine is partially subsidized by the U.S. government, according to a report from The Washington Post.
This report comes in stark contrast to SpaceX’s claims that it hadn’t received any money from the government.
The Washington Post report cites documents from the United States Agency for International Development. SpaceX did donate 3,670 terminals itself, as well as free access to the internet service for users in Ukraine.
However, according to the Post report, the U.S. government and taxpayers have spent a total of about $3 million in contributions towards the effort of deploying Starlink’s services over Ukraine. Most of that went towards buying almost 1,500 Starlink terminals at $1,500 each, as well as $800,000 in transportation costs.
Starlink connects civilians in Ukraine
Last month, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell told CNBC, “I don’t think the U.S. has given us any money to give terminals to Ukraine.” Most of the funding came from private sources, Shotwell said, as well as some from France and maybe also Poland.
After Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, SpaceX CEO responded to a request by Mykhailo Fedorov, the vice prime minister of Ukraine and minister of digital transformation, to deploy Starlink in the country by announcing that SpaceX would donate Starlink terminals in Ukraine so that citizens and troops could keep in touch using the satellite internet service.
“While you try to colonize Mars — Russia tries to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets successfully land from space — Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people! We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations and to address sane Russians to stand,” Fedorov tweeted at the time.
Musk did also warn, however, that users of the service might be targeted by Russia’s military and that they should use it with caution. SpaceX has so far launched approximately 2,000 Starlink satellites into orbit and it has clearance from the FAA to launch roughly 12,000 more. Musk recently tweeted that two-thirds of all active satellites will be Starlink within the next 18 months.