Ukrainian officials are concerned about losing internet service after 1,300 of the military’s Starlink satellites went offline, CNN reported Friday.
Starlink, the internet service run by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, has been crucial to allowing Ukrainian communications throughout the war with Russia as Russian forces have destroyed much Ukraine’s own internet networks.
SpaceX’s director of government sales alerted the Pentagon last month that the company could no longer continue to fund Starlink service in Ukraine, citing the projected cost of $120 million for the remaining months of 2022 and $400 million for the next year.
Ukraine’s military has used Starlink to communicate with its forces and coordinate its defense effort across the country. The service has also allowed civilians to stay online and connected with the outside world.
SpaceX was calling for the Defense Department to step in and provide some of its own funding to support Starlink, but after the request prompted backlash Musk reversed himself and announced that SpaceX would continue funding the service in Ukraine.
But two sources familiar with the outage told CNN that it has heightened fears that Ukraine will lose access to Starlink’s internet service.
CNN reported that the outage began Oct. 24 and has been a “huge problem” for the Ukrainian military, according to a person briefed on the situation. That person told CNN that the terminals had been disconnected because of a lack of funding.
SpaceX was charging Ukraine’s military $2,500 per month to keep each of the 1,300 Starlink units online, causing the total cost to approach almost $20 million by September, the person told CNN. They said the military eventually could not afford to pay the costs anymore.
The Hill has reached out to SpaceX for comment.