‘There’s not just SpaceX’: Pentagon looks beyond Starlink after Musk says he may end services in Ukraine

Last updated on October 14, 2022

The Pentagon is speaking to other satellite communications companies following a report that SpaceX can no longer financially support Starlink terminals in Ukraine, which the country has said is critical for battlefield communications.

On Thursday, CNN reported that SpaceX sent a letter to the Pentagon on Sept. 8 asking the agency to take over funding for the operations of Starlink terminals, which it donated to Ukraine earlier this year.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, a Pentagon spokesperson said the agency was reviewing its options.

“There’s not just SpaceX, there are other entities that we can certainly partner with when it comes to providing Ukraine with what they need on the battlefield,” Sabrina Singh, the Pentagon’s deputy press secretary, said when asked about the report. “I’m not going to show our hand right now on exactly what those are or who we’re talking to.”

Ukrainian leaders have praised Starlink as invaluable for aiding communications between units and as they share information gathered by drones.

Following the CNN report, SpaceX founder Elon Musk noted how much the donation is costing the company.

“In addition to terminals, we have to create, launch, maintain & replenish satellites & ground stations & pay telcos for access to Internet via gateways,” he tweeted. “We’ve also had to defend against cyberattacks & jamming, which are getting harder. Burn is approaching ~$20M/month.”

The Pentagon did not confirm that it received the letter from SpaceX, but Singh said there are “private conversations that are happening.”

“We’re working with our allies and partners and trying to figure out what’s best,” she said.