There is another relatively thorough attempt to analyze SpaceX revenue. Payload Space underestimated Starlink revenue in October 2022 for 2022 at less than $1B and then had to revise up $1.87B. They are still underestimating for 2023 but it is relatively up to date if SpaceX is unable to really scale Starlink monthly dish production from 150k per month. My, Nextbigufuture, analysis is higher revenue for Starlink in 2023. Payload Space is missing various government contracts and underestimating Starlink but I think they are reasonably close for 2022 and a conservative 2023 projection.
Reaching about $11 billion in revenue in 2023 should make SpaceX profitable. SpaceX COO Gwynn Shotwell said SpaceX had one cashflow-positive quarter in 2022.
If SpaceX is able to increase Starlink satellite dish production to 500,000 dishes per month by mid-2023 then they could make 1 million in first half of 2023 and 3 million in the second half. This would nearly double the 2023 revenue projection for Starlink over Payload Space.
SpaceX was adding 150k Starlink users per month at the end of 2022. SpaceX has 1.5M subscribers now.
Thank you to our 1.5M+ customers around the world! 🛰️🌎❤️ pic.twitter.com/SDEyQ3RB5i
— Starlink (@Starlink) May 6, 2023
This is about a $3B per year revenue runrate. Two major communication lines of business starting this year. Starshield and Direct to Cellphone via Gen 2 satellites. Monthly dish production is the limiting factor on Starlink revenue. 4% of the orbiting satellites provide service to 80% of the Starlink customers who are in North America. The current orbital satellites can support 20 million global customers. Doubling the orbital bandwidth in 2023. 40 million serviceable capacity by the end of 2023. Ramping dish production to 1-2 million per month to rapidly capture those customers is the only factor preventing SpaceX Starlink from getting to $30-60 billion per year in revenue early in 2024.
Payload Space makes a good attempt to breakout launch revenue. They ignore the Starshield and the Gen 2 Direct to cell businesses. I believe the Starshield revenue -$2.4-$4.8 billion by end of 2023 and Direct to cell business can add $1-2 billion to SpaceX revenue in 2023. This would put SpaceX 2023 revenue at $14-19 billion instead of the Payload Space estimate of close to $12 billion for 2023. The other adjustment is that increasing the monthly dish production from 150k per month to an average of 250k per month would for 2023 would add about $1.5 billion in annual revenue for each average 100,000 per month increase in overall production.
Payload Space does not consider the new Starshield revenue and business. Starshield is the center of an “end-to-end” offering for national security: SpaceX would build everything from the ground antennas to the satellites, launch the latter with its rockets, and operate the network in space. Starshield uses “additional high-assurance cryptographic capability to host classified payloads and process data securely,” building upon the data encryption it uses with its Starlink system.
SpaceX is providing 20,000 secure Starlink terminals in the Ukraine. Provided in months and require constant software updates to stay ahead of Russian hacking. Proven ability to stay secure in a wartime environment against primary geopolitical adversaries. SpaceX proved to the US military and government that they can provide secure communications. If the US government adopts Starlink for secure communications in a large way like is already being provided at scale in Ukraine, then how many businesses (particularly military contractors) will adopts Starlink for secure communications?
In April, 2022, an official with the US Office of the Secretary of Defense says he was impressed with how quickly SpaceX foiled a Russian jamming attempt on Starlink dishes in Ukraine March of 2022. “In kind of the way Starlink was able to upgrade when a threat showed up, we need to be able to have that agility,” Dave Tremper, director of electronic warfare at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, said during the 2022 C4ISRNET military conference.
Starshield will upgrade for the US (and likely NATO allies soon enough) the secure communications prototypes in Ukraine. Starshield will give them custom modular satellites and upgraded dishes. This should also scale as line of business equal to residential Starlink. Companies and businesses will adopts this as a secure communications standard. This business adoption will start with primary government defense contractors.
Starshield will leverage SpaceX “inter-satellite laser communications” links and other secure communications. SpaceX currently uses lasers for direct satellite-to-satellite communication. Terminals can be added to “partner satellites,” so as to connect other companies’ government systems “into the Starshield network.”
There are 30000 employees of the NSA, 20000 employees of CIA, 16000 Defense Intelligence Agency. The US will eventually need to secure communications for 200k-500k for intelligence, top and key military, and some politicians. Starshield would be the most secure method of communications. If the monthly charge for Secure Starlink business $1000 per month ( a premium above the $500/month for business) then it would only take 100k users (five times more than Ukraine) to reach $1.2B per year in Starshield revenue. The US government would need to double that for secure servers, ground stations and secure software. There are 20,000 Starlink terminals in Ukraine. I would expect the US government to at least 10X the Ukraine terminals in 2023 or 2024. I would expect the US government to at least 10X the Ukraine terminals in 2023 or 2024. 200k US customers for about $2.4B to $4.8B per year in revenue.
SpaceX gets at least $30 million per year from Air Force and Space Agency grants. There are two point-to-point on Earth development projects.
In January, 2022, the U.S. Air Force awarded SpaceX a $102 million five-year contract to demonstrate technologies and capabilities to transport military cargo and humanitarian aid around the world on a heavy rocket. This went along with a $48 million rocket cargo award in 2020-2021.
The contract is for the rocket cargo program, a new project led by the Air Force Research Laboratory to investigate the utility of using large commercial rockets for Department of Defense global logistics.
Starlink had over 1 million active subscribers as of Dec 2022. They are probably at 2 million customers now or by June, 2023. This would be more customers than Iridium (satellite phone provider). Iridium ended 2022 with 1,999,000 total billable subscribers, which compares to 1,723,000 for the year-ago period and is up from 1,973,000 for the quarter ended September 30, 2022. This is before SpaceX/Starlink get the Gen 2 satellites working (which are launching this year..perhaps 1000 about 40 times more than Iridium). Direct satellite to unmodified cellphone. First batch of gen2 were bad. Deals with T-mobiles, Rogers of Canada, One New Zealand (aka Vodafone NZ). No revenue in the Payload space for this new direct to Cell service. Text and voice and 1G internet most anywhere. $5-10 per month add on. How many join? How much revenue? Cell providers can retire half of their remote cell towers.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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