Although SpaceX has indicated that the US did not give money to send Starlink terminals to Ukraine in March, according to a report by The Washington Post reveals that the government actually paid millions of dollars for equipment and transportation. The report found that the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, paid $1,500 apiece for 1,333 terminals, totaling around $2 million. USAID announced the number of terminals purchased by the company in a press release in early April changed since then Remove mentions of purchase.
Corresponding Space reporter Joey Roulette, SpaceX donated 3,667 terminals to Ukraine, worth approximately $10 million, after also accounting for the three months of data it provided with the terminals. However, it is possible that this donation was partially subsidized by USAID’s purchase of $1,500 per unit. The Washington Post says it’s unclear whether Ukraine received standard terminals, which SpaceX is currently charging $600 for, or the advanced terminals announced in February, which cost $2,500.
Seems USAID edited their press release and deleted the value of SpaceX’s donation and the number of terminals the agency says SpaceX provided at its own expense. Here is the previous version compared to the current version: https://t.co/ws1urZu4VM pic.twitter.com/1eZxfQ6DPA
— Joey Roulette (@joroulette) April 6, 2022
When USAID bought regular terminals, it paid $900 above retail cost per unit (which adds up to about $1.2 million) — specifically, a recent report said the terminals would cost SpaceX about $1,000 to build – cost dollars. It’s possible that USAID also paid for the internet service, which costs $110 per month for Starlink’s standard plan and $500 per month for the premium plan available with the more expensive terminals.
The Washington Post also reports that USAID has agreed to pay more than $800,000 to ship the 5,000 terminals sent to Ukraine through what the agency now describes as a “public-private partnership.”
In February, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister released images of a truck filled with what appeared to be standard Starlink terminals, days after he tweeted SpaceX CEO Elon Musk asking for help. However, it is unclear whether these terminals were sent exclusively by SpaceX The Washington Post‘s report notes that USAID had previously purchased 175 Starlink terminals as part of a separate agreement.
It seems like SpaceX made a significant donation to Ukraine’s charity. USAID said that post Office in a statement that the “delivery of Starlink terminals was made possible by a number of stakeholders whose combined contributions were worth over $15 million,” and the original press release said SpaceX’s equipment was worth $10 million dollars donated. But like many other SpaceX projects, the company appears to have received a significant amount of public funding for the project.