SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet on Tuesday that Starlink, a worldwide broadband network created by a constellation of satellites, could launch an initial public offering once the aerospace company can “predict cash flow reasonably well.”
“SpaceX needs to pass through a deep chasm of negative cash flow over the next year or so to make Starlink financially viable. Every new satellite constellation in history has gone bankrupt. We hope to be the first that does not,” Musk added in a separate tweet. “Starlink is a staggeringly difficult technical & economic endeavor. However, if we don’t fail, the cost to end users will improve every year.”
Musk’s latest statements echo comments made by SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell last year that Starlink is “the right kind of business that we can go ahead and take public.”
SpaceX was reportedly eyeing additional funding in December that would put the company at a valuation as high as $92 billion. In August, the company raised $1.9 billion at a valuation of $46 billion, the company’s largest funding round to date.
The tweets come as preorders for Starlink’s service are now available for $99.
The company’s website emphasizes that the preorders are “fully refundable,” but notes that “placing a deposit does not guarantee service.” The pre-orders will be fulfilled on a first-come, first-serve basis. For some locations entered on the website, SpaceX says coverage won’t be available until “mid to late 2021,” while other areas won’t have service available until 2022.
The full Starlink kit costs $499 and includes a mountable dish antenna, Wi-Fi router, and power supply. The service will be offered first in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.
According to a filing with the Federal Communications Commission, Starlink has launched over 1,000 satellites into orbit and has over 10,000 users in the United States and abroad since its “Better Than Nothing” beta launched domestically and internationally in October.
SpaceX said beta users can expect to see data speeds vary from 50 megabits per second to 150 megabits per second and latency — the time it takes to send data from one point to the next — from 20 milliseconds to 40 milliseconds in most locations over the next several months as the company continues to expand its coverage.
“There will also be brief periods of no connectivity at all,” SpaceX added. “As we launch more satellites, install more ground stations and improve our networking software, data speed, latency and uptime will improve dramatically.”
Starlink is “ideally suited for areas of the globe where connectivity has typically been a challenge,” according to its website. The company’s satellites are over 60 times closer to Earth than traditional satellites, allowing for a stronger and faster connection than traditional satellite internet offerings.
The company has conducted 17 Starlink launches to date, with another mission scheduled for as early as the end of this week after being delayed.