Skip to main content

The US government reportedly paid to send Starlink terminals to Ukraine

The US government reportedly paid to send Starlink terminals to Ukraine

/

SpaceX previously said the US didn’t provide financial aid

Share this story

The company often receives public assistance for its projects.
The company often receives public assistance for its projects.
Photo by Nilay Patel / The Verge

Despite SpaceX implying that the US didn’t give money to send Starlink terminals to Ukraine in March, a report from The Washington Post reveals that the government actually paid millions of dollars for equipment and transportation. The report found that the US Agency for International Development, or USAID, paid $1,500 apiece for 1,333 terminals, adding up to around $2 million. USAID disclosed the number of terminals it bought from the company in a press release from early April that has since been altered to remove mentions of the purchase.

According to space reporter Joey Roulette, SpaceX donated 3,667 terminals to Ukraine, or around $10 million worth, after also factoring in the three months of data it provided with the terminals. However, it’s possible this donation was partially subsidized by USAID’s $1,500-a-unit purchase. The Washington Post says it’s unclear whether Ukraine received standard terminals, which SpaceX currently charges $600 for, or the advanced terminals, which were announced in February and cost $2,500.

If USAID purchased regular terminals, it paid $900 over retail cost per unit (adding up to around $1.2 million) — notably, a recent report said that the terminals cost SpaceX around $1,000 to build. It is possible that USAID was also paying for internet service, which costs $110 a month for Starlink’s standard plan and $500 a month for its premium plan available with the more expensive terminals.

SpaceX sells its terminals to consumers at a loss

The Washington Post also reports that USAID agreed to pay more than $800,000 for transportation of the 5,000 terminals that were sent to Ukraine through what the agency now calls a “public-private partnership.”

In February, Ukraine’s vice prime minister posted images of a truck filled with what appeared to be standard Starlink terminals, days after he tweeted at SpaceX CEO Elon Musk asking for assistance. It’s unclear whether these terminals were sent solely by SpaceX, though The Washington Post’s report does note that USAID had previously bought 175 Starlink terminals as part of a separate agreement.

It does appear like SpaceX did make a significant charitable donation to Ukraine. USAID told the Post in a statement that the “delivery of Starlink terminals were made possible by a range of stakeholders, whose combined contributions valued over $15 million,” and its original press release said that SpaceX donated $10 million worth of equipment in service. But, as with many other SpaceX projects, the company does appear to have gotten a significant amount of public funding for the project.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Two hours ago The tablet didn’t call that play by itself

T
Thomas RickerTwo hours ago
The Simpsons pays tribute to Chrome’s dino game.

Season 34 of The Simpsons kicked off on Sunday night with an opening credits “couch gag” based on the offline dino game from Google’s Chrome browser. Cactus, cactus, couch, d’oh! Perfect.


T
Youtube
Thomas Ricker7:29 AM UTC
Table breaks before Apple Watch Ultra’s sapphire glass.

”It’s the most rugged and capable Apple Watch yet,” said Apple at the launch of the Apple Watch Ultra (read The Verge review here). YouTuber TechRax put that claim to the test with a series of drop, scratch, and hammer tests. Takeaways: the titanium case will scratch with enough abuse, and that flat sapphire front crystal is tough — tougher than the table which cracks before the Ultra fails — but not indestructible.


E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 25
Rihanna’s headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Apple Music’s set to sponsor the Halftime Show next February, and it’s starting out strong with a performance from Rihanna. I honestly can’t remember which company sponsored the Halftime Show before Pepsi, so it’ll be nice to see how Apple handles the show for Super Bowl LVII.


Welcome to the new Verge

Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

Nilay PatelSep 13
E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 25
Starlink is growing.

The Elon Musk-owned satellite internet service, which covers all seven continents including Antarctica, has now made over 1 million user terminals. Musk has big plans for the service, which he hopes to expand to cruise ships, planes, and even school buses.

Musk recently said he’ll sidestep sanctions to activate the service in Iran, where the government put restrictions on communications due to mass protests. He followed through on his promise to bring Starlink to Ukraine at the start of Russia’s invasion, so we’ll have to wait and see if he manages to bring the service to Iran as well.


E
External Link
Emma RothSep 25
We might not get another Apple event this year.

While Apple was initially expected to hold an event to launch its rumored M2-equipped Macs and iPads in October, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman predicts Apple will announce its new devices in a series of press releases, website updates, and media briefings instead.

I know that it probably takes a lot of work to put these polished events together, but if Apple does pass on it this year, I will kind of miss vibing to the livestream’s music and seeing all the new products get presented.


E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


A
Youtube
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


A
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.


A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix