The richest man in the world has also become one of the most influential personalities on the planet.
Elon Musk has never been more alarmist than he is right now.
The billionaire, who is deeply involved in the conflict between Russia and the Ukraine after the invasion by Moscow on February 24, fears that we are heading towards an all-out war with the possibility of a nuclear confrontation.
“Nuclear war probability is rising rapidly,” the billionaire warned on October 9.
A Big Controversy
The alarm also concerns the products manufactured by his own companies and above all the most famous of them. This is Starlink, the secure and independent Internet access service, that has become a window of hope for people living under dictatorships around the world.
Musk and his aerospace company SpaceX supplied Starlink to Ukraine, after Russia destroyed Ukrainian telecommunications infrastructure.
Starlink is used particularly by civilians in areas under attack by Russia and in areas where infrastructure has been destroyed. Government officials and armed forces employ the service on the ground because it’s secure.
The company’s satellites are helping Ukrainian military drones destroy Russian tanks and army trucks. The drones are equipped with anti-tank grenades to be launched at targets.
But a controversy has erupted in recent days over the financing of the use of Starlink in Ukraine. Musk and SpaceX are asking the US government, via the Department of Defense, to cover part of the cost in the coming months or they will be forced to end it because the company no longer has the means to do so.
“We are not in a position to further donate terminals to Ukraine, or fund the existing terminals for an indefinite period of time,” SpaceX’s director of government sales wrote in a letter to the Pentagon last September.
Providing Starlink in Ukraine “has cost SpaceX $80M & will exceed $100M by end of year,” Musk said on October 7. The figure could total $400 million for the next 12 months.
Starlink May ‘Die’
Musk explains that this request is supported by the fact that the service has become the only means allowing the Ukrainian armed forces to communicate both on the front and with the general staff.
This makes the service a frequent target of Russian cyberattacks, thus forcing SpaceX to allocate many resources to counter these attacks. These efforts translate into additional costs.
“Starlink is the primary communications system of the Ukrainian army on the war front. If anyone else wants this job, please be my guest…” Musk posted on Twitter on October 14.
Faced with critics who see SpaceX’s request as a way to obtain public funding, the billionaire replied that the service has almost become a military tool for a country supported by NATO. It would therefore be logical for NATO or the Pentagon to bear the costs.
Otherwise, Musk has just made a dark prediction: Starlink may die.
It all started with a post from a Twitter user accusing the billionaire of seeking public funding for his private projects.
“Are you attributing expenses for the global infrastructure to Ukraine and trying to get the gov’t to fund it? $240M/year just for Ukraine make no sense. That implies the whole system is losing $10B+/ year,” the user said.
“Big difference between peace comms vs warfront comms,” the billionaire responded. “Starlink is only comms system still working at warfront – others all dead. Russia is actively trying to kill Starlink. To safeguard, SpaceX has diverted massive resources towards defense.”
Then he added: “Even so, Starlink may still die.”
“Starlink Is All That’s Left. For Now”
He then provided additional details in an attempt to prove that the SpaceX’s claims are not outlandish.
“Internet fiber, phone lines, cell towers & other space-based comms in war areas have been destroyed.”
He then put pressure on the Pentagon and the NATO countries that support Ukraine by warning that the possibility of Starlink disappearing is real.
“Starlink is all that’s left. For now.”
He added several hours later: “The amount SpaceX is requesting for a major battlefield advantage is less than the cost of one new GPS satellite. Ironically, GPS doesn’t work on battlefields, as the signal is easy to jam, but Starlink does.”
These alarming statements have caused concern among his millions of fans and users on social networks.
“Elon, Is SpaceX/Starlink service in Ukraine still experiencing constant attacks by the Russian hackers?” asked one user.
“Of course. And their signal jamming systems are also getting better,” Musk responded.