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Under no circumstances did Musk donate all Starlink terminals to Ukraine

Entrepreneur Elon Musk is not nearly as selfless in supporting Ukraine as it sometimes appears to the outside world. Not all Starlink terminals have been donated by the company for use in the war zone. Musk has not implied in any of his tweets on the subject that his company, SpaceX, got anything for providing the Starlink antennas.

SpaceX CEO Gwynne Shotwell was even more direct: “I don’t think the US gave us money to provide terminals in Ukraine,” she said in an interview with US broadcaster CNBC. According to a report by Washington Post in reality, however, it looks a little different. According to this information, several million dollars in tax dollars from the US federal authorities flowed into SpaceX. Notably, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) handled the deal, which also included several other services.

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SpaceX has certainly made a significant contribution – that should not be hidden. But not everything was a large and altruistic donation from the company, which after all belongs to one of the richest people in the world. According to information from the newspaper, the space company itself has made 3,670 Starlink terminals available to Ukraine for free. In addition, there is free use of the internet connection via the company’s satellites for three months. USAID also bought 1,330 terminals for $1,500 each — far more than what a regular customer in the company’s official territories is willing to pay.

In addition, the government took over the transportation costs of around $800,000 – because it is not exactly trivial to create a large amount of material in a crisis area. So far, about 5,000 Starlink terminals have been shipped to Ukraine. USAID received logistical support from several helpers that SpaceX did not have easy access to. Their support would likely equal another $15 million or more if all the services had to be purchased. The main question here is how the systems are transported from the US via Poland to Ukraine and distributed in the country to the front areas.

Mark Goodman

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