US taxpayers may have paid $3 million to send Ukraine SpaceX's Starlink terminals

But SpaceX denies these funds came from tax-paid or subsidies.
Chris Young
The launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket.Wikimedia Commons

SpaceX's donation of Starlink internet terminals to Ukraine was partially subsidized by the U.S. government, according to a report from The Washington Post.

The report comes in stark contrast to SpaceX's recent 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 Ukraine civilians, but might also put them in danger

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 so that citizens and troops in Ukraine 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.

After stating that SpaceX would re-deploy Starlink satellites over Ukraine, Musk did warn that users of the service might be targeted by Russia's military and that they should use it with caution and while taking measures to conceal their digital and physical presence.

SpaceX has so far launched approximately 2,000 Starlink satellites into orbit. The private space firm has clearance from the FAA to launch roughly 12,000 more, and it is seeking approval to launch a total of approximately 30,000 Starlink satellites into orbit. Musk recently tweeted that two-thirds of all active satellites will be Starlink within the next 18 months, and that revenue from the internet satellite service will help it fund the development of its Starship launch vehicle, which it aims to send to the Moon and eventually Mars.

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