The Business of SpaceX's Starlink is ON

in LeoFinance5 months ago (edited)

In a February 2021 filing[^1] with the the Federal Comunications Commission to become a telecommunications carrier, SpaceX disclosed more than 10k users of their service.

SpaceX has already 500k reservations for Starlink. With a $99 monthly bill, that is a potential revenue of $50 million per month or over $600 million per year.

News – SpaceX says it has received more than 500,000 orders for Starlink satellite internet to date, but the $99 deposits are fully refundable and do not guarantee service.https://t.co/VS8tOrjN7R

— Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) May 4, 2021

Elon's clarification:

Only limitation is high density of users in urban areas. Most likely, all of the initial 500k will receive service. More of a challenge when we get into the several million user range.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 4, 2021

SpaceX has launched 26 dedicated Starlink payloads, 60 satellites a pop, into low earth orbit (550 km) so far. These satellites are currently building out the first orbital shell, which will consist of 1600 satellites. That shell is almost complete and will cover approximately 80% of Earth's surface. Completion is expected by June 2021. Later shells will be in higher orbits for higher throughput.

The cost side of the business is getting better with each launch. A new Falcon 9 goes for around $50 million, but re-usability of Falcon 9 rockets dramatically lowers prices. The last launch was a 10th re-flight.

Even though Elon is on a war path with Wall Street and sometimes regrets that Tesla is a public company, he has repeatedly teased to bring Starlink public. Probably because he understands how cheap funding can be if done properly.

It makes sense because the MVP has been demonstrated and is an easy to understand infrastructure play. Now.

Linus Tech Tips with the most important benchmark test: Gaming on STARLINK!!

Now You Know shows how convenient the setup is: We Test Elon’s $99 Mobile Internet | In Depth

[^1 ]: FCC filing: https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/1020316268311/Starlink%20Services%20LLC%20Application%20for%20ETC%20Designation.pdf

Starlink: SpaceX

Starlink: Wikipedia

Background information about previous SpaceX launches: Wikipedia


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I vaguely remember that Gwynne Shotwell mentioning that they were selling these at a loss.

Though with some napkin math, it may be so that the only year they're going to lose money is the first year. If we assume that the Dishy is $500 to sell and $1k to produce (if I recall, it was $1.3k before) They're definitely losing out on them, but with the preorders and the monthly cost of $99, not to mention them constantly optimizing their product lines to make it even cheaper and better they might be just swimming in money in the next couple of years.

The biggest question I have for SpaceX is what their thoughts are on regional/local pricing. Because for sure, while someone in Germany can afford, lets say, 99 euros a month. Someone in a random Eastern Europe country may not be able to.

But even then, the dish price would be still the same. Food for thought.

On the other hand, I wonder if they'd accept crypto payments for Starlink. Even though they cancelled it for Tesla.

Last I heard was that scale of production will take care of hardware manufacturing cost. And they are on track.