Starlink has achieved positive cash flow and is on track to turn a profit in 2023 and this starts a countdown to a Starlink IPO.
Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite-based internet service, recorded its first quarter of positive cash flow in 2022 and is on track to turn a profit this year, said SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell.
Shotwell made the comments while speaking at the FAA’s annual Commercial Space Transportation conference in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, although she didn’t specify which quarter was profitable for the company.
“This year, Starlink will make money. We actually had a cash flow positive quarter last year,” Shotwell said.
Starlink and Starshield Revenue
Starlink ended 2022 with over 1 million subscribers. Those subscribers are spread across a variety of different Starlink tiers from residential users which pay about $110USD per month, or the equivalent in their currency. Starlink RV internet costs $135 per month with an up-front $599 equipment fee. Starlink Business costs $500 per month with a $2,500 one-time equipment fee. Starlink Maritime are high at $5,000 a month with an upfront, but one-time, hardware setup of $10,000 for two satellite dishes. Starlink Aviation costs anywhere from $12,500 to $25,000 per month.
Starlink residential revenue is limited by the number of dishes they can make and deploy each month. They had reached 150,000 per month in 2022. This rate of dishes would mean about 3 million customers at the end of 2023.
The satellites currently in space can support 5-10 million customers. They will have about 100 Starlink launches of Gen 1 and Gen 2 satellites in 2023. This would provide the capacity for 20-30 million Starlink customers and 20-100 million direct mobile phone text and phone customers via T-mobile and other cellphone partners. SpaceX should be able to increase dish production to 500,000 per month by mid-2023 and then 1 million per month around the end of 2023. This would mean ending 2023 with about 6-10 million Starlink customers. Starlink should have solid and predictable profit growth around Q3 or Q4 2023.
Starshield will get billions of dollars each year in government and military communication services.
SpaceX is expanding its Starlink satellite technology into military applications with a new business line called Starshield. SpaceX’s website describes Starshield as a “secured satellite network for government entities” with an “initial focus” on direct delivery of processed Earth observation data, secure global communications enabled by inter-satellite laser links, and satellite buses for hosting “the most demanding customer payload missions.
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.
Another key feature: the “inter-satellite laser communications” links. 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 defence 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 dishes was $500 per month or $1000 per month then it would only take 50k to 100k users to reach $600 million-$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 to at least 10X the Ukraine terminals in 2023 or 2024.
Once we can predict cash flow reasonably well, Starlink will IPO
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 9, 2021
Gwynne Shotwell at FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference: Ideally, Starship will have “hundreds of flights before we fly people to the Moon.”
— Irene Klotz (@Free_Space) February 8, 2023
Shotwell: “I think we should be living on other planets — the moon is first.”
— Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) February 8, 2023
Shotwell asks if anyone in the room wants to go to Mars, before saying “I want to go to the moon.”
— Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) February 8, 2023
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.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.