December 3, 2023

“Nobody really understands SpaceX’s financials,” Mr. Lionnet said. “There are no balance sheets or financial reports available. We have a large company with 10,000 employees — a prime contractor for NASA and the Department of Defense — and absolutely no information on its financials.”

2020investment bank Morgan Stanley Appraisal Value SpaceX has a market cap of $100 billion, and its Starship rocket alone is an $11 billion business. Regular Starship flights will make Starlink, SpaceX’s space service high-speed internet, profitable, according to Morgan Stanley. By 2030, the bank predicts that Starship will launch 10,000 tons of payload into orbit each year. For the math to work, Starship would have to launch 46,000 tons by 2040, Mr Lionnet said. This is equivalent to launching 100 complete ISS launches per year.

The implicit assumption, he said, is that if launch prices drop significantly, “you’re going to increase demand significantly.” But, he asked, “what’s the use of all that mass?”

In one instance, those numbers did apply to SpaceX, he added.

“Fundamentally, SpaceX’s goal may not be to make a profit, but to go to Mars,” Mr. Lionnet said. “If you believe that, then nothing else means anything. Whenever Musk comes and asks for money, he can always find someone to give him money.”

Seven hours after Crew-5 lifted off, another Falcon 9 rocket stood on the launch pad at Vandenberg Space Force Base, a three-hour drive northwest of Los Angeles and even closer to SpaceX headquarters. The main mission control facility is still monitoring the astronauts’ journey, so a second team works out of the adjacent, much smaller mission control center.

The customer for Wednesday’s second launch was SpaceX itself — a flight that will carry 52 of the company’s Starlink internet satellites into orbit. SpaceX currently has 3,200 satellites in space and aims to launch about 39,000 more over the next few years.

Behind the thick fog at the launch site stands a rocket that has flown 13 times and is preparing to launch.

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