Pentagon contract for Musk’s Starlink satellite network in Ukraine set to expire in May – Bloomberg

The Pentagon contract to provide Elon Musk’s Starlink terminals in Ukraine is set to expire next month, according to an unnamed US official who spoke to Bloomberg. The satellite network has played a vital role in the US’ security assistance to Kyiv, the report notes.

The source also revealed the contract, which took effect in June last year and lasts through May, is worth $23 million. The US Department of Defense has so far refused to publicly disclose the size of the contract. Bloomberg described the amount as “miniscule” compared to the “hundreds of millions of dollars” SpaceX received from the US for launching some of its national security satellites.

Elon Musk has repeatedly voiced unease about Starlink’s use in Ukraine. The satellite network has provided communications to the country’s military and government. “Starlink needs to be a civilian network, not a participant to combat,” Musk said on Twitter in September, referring to the satellites’ use in Ukraine throughout the conflict with Russia. “This is the right order of things,” he added.

Musk’s comment came shortly after the billionaire revealed that he had foiled a Ukrainian drone raid on Crimea by refusing to let Ukrainian forces use Starlink to guide naval drone strikes on Russian ships. Musk’s admission sparked outrage in Kyiv, with Mikhail Podoliak, a top adviser to President Vladimir Zelensky, accusing him of “enabling evil.”

Musk responded to the accusation by explaining that he had no obligation to fight for Ukraine, adding that he did not want SpaceX to be “explicitly complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation.” His remark echoed a previous statement made in the winter of 2023, where he admitted that although Starlink was “the communication backbone of Ukraine, especially at the front lines”, SpaceX “will not enable escalation of conflict that may lead to WW3.”

Last year, SpaceX signed a contract with the US Defense Department to provide satellite services as part of the Pentagon’s new ‘Starshield’ program. CEO Elon Musk described the effort as a military alternative to the “civilian” Starlink. However, according to Bloomberg, the new Space Force contract will see Starshield’ rely on the existing constellation of Starlink satellites.