Updated Oct 15, 2022 - Economy

"The hell with it": Elon Musk drops request for Starlink funding

Elon Musk, Founder and Chief Engineer of SpaceX, attends the Satellite 2020 Conference in Washington, DC.

Elon Musk attends a conference in Washington. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Elon Musk said Saturday that the Starlink terminals from SpaceX provide a "battlefield advantage" that costs less than a new GPS satellite  — but he tweeted that he'll foot the bill.

Why it matters: This is a quick reversal for Musk from defending his decision to ask for help paying for the Starlink service, saying SpaceX can't fund internet in Ukraine forever and that the Pentagon may need to foot the bill moving forward.

Catch up quick: SpaceX sent a letter to the Pentagon last month asking the U.S. to fund the government and military use of Starlink in Ukraine moving forward, CNN reports.

  • On Friday, Musk said SpaceX can't "indefinitely" fund critical internet service in Ukraine through Starlink terminals. “This is unreasonable,” Musk tweeted.
  • On Saturday, Musk said SpaceX's request "for a major battlefield advantage is less than the cost of one new GPS satellite. ... GPS doesn’t work on battlefields, as the signal is easy to jam, but Starlink does," Musk claimed in a tweet.

The big picture: Musk said the Starlink operation in Ukraine "has cost SpaceX $80 million and will exceed $100 million by the end of the year.”

  • The Department of Defense spokesman told Axios on Friday that "the department continues to work with industry to explore solutions for Ukraine’s armed forces as they repel Russia’s brutal and unprovoked aggression."
  • The DOD said on Saturday that it had no additional comment.
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