Billionaire Elon Musk has suggested his rocket company SpaceX will continue to fund its satellite-based Starlink internet service in Ukraine. But Musk’s tone and wording also raised the possibility that the irascible Tesla CEO was just being sarcastic.
Musk frequently tweets jokes and insults and sometimes goes on unusual tangents, such as a recent series of tweets suggesting that one of his companies has begun selling its own line of fragrances.
It is not clear if SpaceX has actually established future plans for service in Ukraine.Elon Musk has suggested on Twitter that SpaceX will continue to fund the Starlink satellite system for Ukraine. (Getty)
Last Friday, senior US officials confirmed that Musk had officially asked the Defence Department to take over funding for the service Starlink provides in Ukraine.
Starlink, which provides broadband internet service using more than 2200 low-orbiting satellites, has provided crucial battlefield communications for Ukrainian military forces since early in the nation’s defence against Russia’s February invasion.
“The hell with it … even though Starlink is still losing money & other companies are getting billions of taxpayer $, we’ll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free,” Musk tweeted on Saturday.
The Starlink satellite system provides crucial battlefield communications for Ukraine’s military. (AP)
On Friday, Musk tweeted that it was costing SpaceX US$20 million ($32m) a month to support Ukraine’s communications needs. Tesla didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
The senior US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter not yet made public, said the issue of Starlink funding has been discussed in meetings and that senior leaders are weighing the matter. There have been no decisions.
A Ukrainian diplomat expressed optimism on Sunday about securing the money needed for the continued operation of the satellite network.
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“It’s there, it’s working,” said the envoy, Oksana Markarova. “It will need to be working for a longer time.”
She did not indicate whether Musk had agreed to continue funding the Starlink internet service in Ukraine but said the country’s collaboration with the company has been excellent.
“We got the Starlinks in Ukraine very quickly, in some areas for humanitarian support, it’s the only connection that we have,” Markarova told CBS.
“And it’s very important to continue having it and I’m positive that we will find a solution there.”