SpaceX plans to develop a fleet of Starships to establish the first sustainable colony on Mars before the year 2050. Manufacturing the spacecraft capable of launching tons of cargo and hundreds of humans to the Red Planet comes with an expensive price tag, SpaceX plans to offer Starlink broadband internet worldwide to additionally fund its ambitious space program. The company is deploying internet-beaming satellites into low Earth orbit. To date, there are around 708 out of the 4,409 satellites that will initially make-up the Starlink network.
SpaceX says it is primarily focused on offering affordable internet in rural areas around Earth where connection is unreliable and inaccessible. Starlink customers will receive service from space via a user terminal dish. The wireless service will be easy to install at home, just ‘plug-in and point at sky.’ The company has not made public how much the internet service will cost per month. Regarding the pricing, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told reporters last year – “All I know is you will be far happier with the value of the Starlink service than you are with your current service. You will, for sure, get way more bandwidth for the same price, or way more bandwidth for less…You’ll be far happier with this. The value will be far greater.”
Today, the founder of SpaceX Elon Musk stated SpaceX may spin off its Starlink broadband business and pursue an IPO (Initial Public Offering). “We will probably IPO Starlink, but only several years in the future when revenue growth is smooth & predictable,” Musk wrote via Twitter, “Public market does *not* like erratic cash flow haha. I’m a huge fan of small retail investors. Will make sure they get top priority. You can hold me to it,” he said.
While SpaceX itself will remain private, Starlink may be accessible for public investors in the future. Earlier this year, Shotwell told investors at a meeting – “Right now, we are a private company, but Starlink is the right kind of business that we can go ahead and take public. That particular piece is an element of the business that we [SpaceX] are likely to spin out and go public,” she said.
We will probably IPO Starlink, but only several years in the future when revenue growth is smooth & predictable. Public market does *not* like erratic cash flow haha. I’m a huge fan of small retail investors. Will make sure they get top priority. You can hold me to it.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 28, 2020
During the Satellite2020 event in March, Musk said that if Starlink is successful in obtaining a percentage of users of the global telecommunications market, SpaceX could net $30 billion to $50 billion in revenue annually. During the conference, Musk was asked what his long-term vision for the Starlink network is, “The whole purpose of SpaceX is really to help make life multi-planetary... But the revenue potential of launching satellites to the space station, that taps out about $3 billion dollars a year. But I think providing broadband is more like an order of magnitude more than that, probably $30 billion a year as a rough approximation,” he said. Starlink could provide additional funding for SpaceX's long-term mission.
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.