SpaceX may spin off its giant massive internet-from-space initiative named Starlink into a distinguished business and transform the company public, according to Gwynne Shotwell, the company’s president. Shotwell made the comments on Thursday at an event that was held for private investors in Miami, Florida, Bloomberg reports.
Broadband Internet Coverage
“That particular piece is an element of the business that we are likely to spin out and go public,” Shotwell said, according to Bloomberg. “Right now, we are a private company, but Starlink is the right kind of business that we can go ahead and take public.”
Starlink is a determined and ambitious proposal; it is a constellation of about 12,000 satellites engineered to beam down broadband internet coverage to every part of the earth. So far, SpaceX has launched 240 satellites for Starlink, transforming the company into the operator of the biggest active satellite constellation in the world. This year, SpaceX is planning to launch up to 24 missions, launching up 60 satellites per flight. Last year Shotwell said that the company would start releasing partial coverage with the constellation in 2020.
Searching for an initial public offering for Starlink would be a huge leap for the Elon Musk-run SpaceX, which has continued to be private since it came to existence in 2002. Musk, who infamously hates publicly traded companies, has said in the past that he wouldn’t take SpaceX public until the company’s Mars vehicle was complete. “Some at SpaceX who have not been through a public company experience may think that being public is desirable,” Musk wrote in an email to SpaceX employees in 2013. “This is not so. Public company stocks, particularly if big step changes in technology are involved, go through extreme volatility, both for reasons of internal execution and for reasons that have nothing to do with anything except the economy.”
From Starlink to Starship
According to CNBC, the latest valuation of SpaceX put the company at about $33.3 billion. Most of SpaceX’s business has concentrated around launching satellites or cargo into orbit. The company has done business with NASA, the Department of Defense, or private satellite operators as customers. However, with Starlink, SpaceX is planning to provide a service directly to the general public. Customers are going to be able to purchase user terminals to connect to the Starlink constellation, transforming SpaceX into a consumer-facing business.
Previously, Starlink has been exhibited as a crucial part of SpaceX’s future. Musk has said that the revenue generated from the project is going to help fund the mission of sending people to the Moon and Mars. Currently, SpaceX is working on a next-generation rocket named Starship to boost and jump-start the interplanetary ambitions of the company. Musk has pointed out that the designing and development of the Starship could cost between $2 billion and $10 billion.
SpaceX isn’t the sole company that is pursuing the internet-from-space business. Other private companies such as Kepler Communications, OneWeb, and even Amazon have suggested making humongous constellations to provide internet coverage to the globe. So far, only SpaceX along with OneWeb has started launching satellites.
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