SpaceX spending millions on cyberwar defense, Musk says

SpaceX founder Elon Musk says the company did not receive funding from the US Department of Defense (DoD) to support Starlink’s operation in Ukraine.

Billionaire Elon Musk explained that while SpaceX did not receive any DoD funding to support services it provides in Ukraine, other countries and organizations pay up to $25k for Starlink terminals. There are approximately 25,000 Starlink terminals in Ukraine.

However, Musk, the world’s richest man who also owns the electric car company Tesla, implied that SpaceX is still losing millions of dollars, primarily due to elevated security concerns that come with the use of Starlink in Ukraine.

“SpaceX is losing ~$20M/month due to unpaid service & costs related to enhanced security measures for cyberwar defense, but we’ll keep doing it (sigh),” Musk said in a tweet.

Russia eyeing attacks against satellite-based infrastructure used in Ukraine is no secret. Western intelligence agencies have confirmed that Russia was behind the attack on Viasat’s satellite KA-SAT network on the first day of the invasion of Ukraine, causing connection outages for thousands of users across Europe.

Last May, Musk admitted that Starlink satellites were under fire. However, he added that SpaceX’s infrastructure “has resisted all hacking and jamming attempts.”

So far, there’s no public reporting about successful cyber attacks against Starlink satellites. However, experts Cybernews have discussed the issue with don’t see why nation-states could not successfully breach SpaceX’s systems.

Change of heart

According to reports first published by CNN last week, SpaceX sent a letter to the Pentagon in September, asking to fund Ukraine’s use of Starlink. The company said it could no longer donate new terminals or support the existing ones.

Musk said the program has already cost SpaceX $80 million and will exceed $100 million by the end of the year.

Later, however, Musk changed his tune with a somewhat sarcastic tweet saying that SpaceX will “just keep funding Ukraine government for free.”

Starlink terminals are vital for Ukraine. Distributed nature of Starlink’s service prevents Moscow from denying Kyiv communications infrastructure that is vital for the civilian population and the military.

The Federal Communications Commission has previously denied SpaceX’s application to receive $888.5 million in funding to supply the Starlink satellite broadband internet service to rural areas. The FCC argued that SpaceX “failed to demonstrate” that it “could deliver the promised service.”

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