A Bill Gates-funded competitor to Starlink had some harsh criticism for Elon Musk recently. Starlink has been critical to Ukraine’s fight back against the Russian invasion. Although SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has made it very clear that he supports Ukraine, he’s gotten a lot of criticism for asking the U.S. government to help pay the costs of giving Starlink services to Ukraine.
SpaceX withdrew its request to the Pentagon for help paying for Ukraine’s access to the service and Elon Musk promised that SpaceX would continue to fund Ukraine’s internet out of pocket even though it’s losing money.
Yet, even so, many critics are still upset, including a Bill-Gates-funded competitor, Kymeta.
In an interview with Bloomberg Law, Kymeta’s chief development officer, Bill Marks, said that the company has donated and sold its technology to Ukraine. He said that he was sure that Elon Musk would have “blood on his hands,” for threats of cutting off Starlink service in Ukraine. Marks told the publication that these threats were “egregious.”
He then touted Kymeta as the better company and said the service is working with the Department of Defense. He added that Kymeta is in talks with other NATO countries.
“The biggest difference between our terminals and the Starlink terminals, besides the fact that we would never shut them off, is our terminals work on the move,” he said. He added that the reason the U.S. military liked Kymeta was due to the antenna’s ability to switch to another satellite.
The idea that Elon Musk was threatening to cut Ukraine off from Starlink stems from a letter seen by CNN. In that letter, SpaceX’s director of government sales told the Pentagon, “We are not in a position to further donate terminals to Ukraine, or fund the existing terminals for an indefinite period of time.”
Included in those SpaceX documents was an unreported direct request made to Elon Musk in July by the Ukrainian military’s commanding general, General Valerii Zaluzhniy, for almost 8,000 more Starlink terminals.
CNN also said noted that SpaceX said it might stop funding the service unless the U.S. military helped to cover the cost. However, not only has SpaceX withdrawn that request, but Elon Musk confirmed that SpaceX will continue to cover the cost even though it’s a huge loss to the company.
Elon Musk has said previously that SpaceX is losing $20 billion per month for supporting the nation’s use of internet service. He also shared details about the amount SpaceX requested from the Pentagon. He said that it was less than the cost of one new GPS satellite. GPS, he added, doesn’t work on battlefields due to the ease of jamming the signal. However, Starlink does work.