With a $2 billion net worth in 2012, how did Elon Musk, who is currently ranked as the richest person on Earth, 100x his wealth in just ten years?
Does his brainchild SpaceX play a part in it?
If yes, then how can he generate a sizable income with SpaceX? How is the company turning a profit with such massive investments? What’s the mechanism underlying everything? Let’s look at it all in more depth!
What is SpaceX And What Does It Do?
Space Exploration Technologies Corp a.k.a. SpaceX, is an American company that produces satellites, launches rockets, and manufactures spacecraft owned by Elon Musk.
The company was founded with the goal of revolutionizing the aerospace sector, making space travel more accessible to the general public, and ultimately making the Mars colonization mission a reality.
But what does SpaceX actually do? Well, it designs and produces reusable rocket launchers.
The company’s main offerings are satellite internet and orbital rocket launches. The organization also produces personnel and freight-carrying spacecraft, rocket engines, and launch vehicles.
Currently, it collaborates closely with NASA to send astronauts, supplies, and satellites into Earth orbit from the International Space Station (ISS).
The Falcon 9 Rocket, Falcon Heavy, and Starship launch vehicles, a number of rocket engines, the Cargo Dragon and Crew Dragon spacecraft, and Starlink communications satellites are just a few of SpaceX’s outstanding projects and missions over the years!
How Does SpaceX Make Money?
SpaceX generates revenue from a variety of sources, including Government contracts, Starlink satellite, Rideshare program a.k.a commercial flights, and Civilian flights!
Now let’s take a closer look at each of SpaceX’s business model cash streams!
1. Government Contracts
The majority of SpaceX’s revenue comes from its contracts with United States government agencies like NASA.
SpaceX has eclipsed Boeing as NASA’s second-largest supplier, according to ars Technica, suggesting that it is making some serious money there.
There have been reports that SpaceX has a potential 8-year, $1.4 billion contract amendment to execute 5 more human transportation missions for NASA, demonstrating the scope of government contracts!
Elon Musk hinted that more than 250,000 Starlink user terminals are presently operational and that more than a quarter of a million people have already been getting their internet from space.
Now comes the important part: the revenue! The Starlink service from SpaceX costs $100 per month for high-speed internet. That works up to $300 million per year, which is on the lower side as the number of terminal users can be much higher than 250,000!
This proves that the Starlink service actually generates income and profits and that with more clients, this number will only rise!
3. Rideshare Program (Commercial Flights)
Additionally, the business provides transportation services for business-related activities including satellite placements, satellite launches, space shuttles, etc.
People can get it for as little as $275k for 50 kg to SSO with additional mass at $5.5k/kg,— making it a rather affordable deal, people!
4. Civilian Flights
The Civilian Flight facilities are just one of the “unique offerings” that SpaceX has been offering to the market.
SpaceX provides space tourism services for people, giving them the chance to go on a unique space adventure for just a few million dollars!
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Is SpaceX profitable?
Since SpaceX is not a publicly traded company, it is quite difficult to know the precise figures for its revenue, income, or profit. But if we take into account its many revenue sources, we can definitely estimate a number.
Musk claimed on Twitter in February that Starlink operates more than 250,000 user terminals. If that’s the case, SpaceX might be making $300 million a year just from the high-speed internet service!
In addition, there are over 2,000 Starlink satellites in orbit, and subscribers of the service pay an average of $100 per month. According to Forbes, the corporation recently unveiled a “premium” service that would cost $500 per month.
Even SpaceX committed to 15 commercial launches valued at an estimated $80 million each, for staggering revenues of $1.2 billion in 2020!
SpaceX has consistently gained the confidence of investors in the market and has successfully raised $10 billion in investment through 32 rounds, with its most recent round of fundraising occurring on August 8, 2022.
Even in terms of SpaceX’s valuation, it has surpassed $100 billion, making the business grow rapidly in this sector!
When it comes to specific data, we can certainly hope to acquire accurate value and revenue figures in the future, as Musk has explored the potential of bringing SpaceX, or at least Starlink, public in the future!
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A Brief History of SpaceX
SpaceX, a privately owned space exploration and communication company was founded in California on March 14, 2002, by its founder and CEO, Elon Musk.
Headquartered in Hawthorne, California, SpaceX intends to work towards reducing space transportation costs with the goal to enable the colonization of Mars by the human race.
The company manufactured its maiden orbital launch vehicle christened “Falcon 1” in 2006 which met with three launch failures between 2006 to 2008, taking SpaceX to the brink of collapse.
Nonetheless, the 4th and 5th attempts at its launch in September 2008 and July 2009 respectively resulted in success, bringing the company on track again. While the Falcon 1 was a small lift launch vehicle, going forward, the company proceeded to develop the heavier lift vehicle named “Falcon 9” with the help of NASA.
Falcon 9 was launched successfully for the first time in June 2010. Its second flight in December 2010 saw the launch of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft aboard it. Further, in May 2012 their Dragon C2+ spacecraft became the first commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to the International Space Station!
SpaceX launched its first commercial mission for a private customer in 2013 — marking its entry into the commercial flight world!
Currently, SpaceX is prepared and determined to effectively colonize Mars and make “life on Mars” a reality!
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Competitors of SpaceX
SpaceX isn’t the only company dominating the rocket launch, space travel, and space exploration markets. Numerous other businesses compete directly with Mr. Musk-owned SpaceX!
With its first flight on December 14, 2006, and more than 150 successful missions in a row, United Launch Alliance, or ULA, is North America’s most seasoned space launch business.
When it comes to the future, ULA is prepared to conduct several significant launches in the coming year. The company’s range of rockets includes the Atlas V, Delta IV Heavy, and the Vulcan Centaur, which will debut in 2022 or 2023.
One of the pioneering firms in the field of space launches, Arianespace launched its first satellite in 1979 and presently holds the record for the most launches.
With more than 300 launches, and recorded revenues of more than 1.25 billion euros in 2021, 30% more than the previous year — Arianespace has demonstrated outstanding year-over-year growth!
3. Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman is an American multinational aerospace and defense technology business with its headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia. It is one of the major makers of weapons and suppliers of military technology in the world, with 90,000 workers on board!
According to MacroTrends, Northrop Grumman’s revenue for the quarter that ended September 30, 2022, was $8.971 billion, up 2.88% from the same period last year.
The other two key rivals vying for the reins of the commercial space flight sector are Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, in addition to the ones already mentioned.
Q1. How much does SpaceX get paid per launch?
Here are the figures about SpaceX’s cost per launch:
According to Forbes, SpaceX committed to 15 commercial missions in 2020 for an estimated $80 million per launch.
And according to a number of sources, NASA pays SpaceX a stunning $300 million per mission, or $75 million per astronaut seat, when divided by four astronauts per voyage.
Q2. How Much Money Does SpaceX Make?
As of 2021, SpaceX generated an astounding $2 billion in revenue, according to Zippia. The exact data and statistics may be far higher as they aren’t available to the general public.
Q3. Does SpaceX get money from NASA?
Yes, SpaceX does receive money from NASA for a variety of projects and partnerships. In fact, SpaceX has surpassed Boeing as the second-largest supplier to NASA!
According to sources, NASA obligated SpaceX $2.04 billion in the fiscal year 2022 whereas Boeing received $1.72 billion during the most recent fiscal year!