While Elon Musk might be having a few challenging problems with his Tesla car company, he seems to have no problems at all with his privately-held SpaceX rocket launch business.
SpaceX is currently held 54 per cent by the Elon Musk Trust (but with 78 per cent voting control) but with investment stakes from Google and Fidelity amongst others.
Earlier this year it was estimated that SpaceX would earn revenues of some $2 billion, and that guestimate seems to be working out helped by US government contracts, NASA funding, and earnings from the day-to-day launch business for commercial clients.
SpaceX’s successful launches have climbed from 6 in 2014 to 18 last year and are expected to be about 31 this year. SpaceX offers clients a ‘launch discount’ if they use a previously flown 1st stage, and this helped bring average launch costs down to about $65 million. Add in a few government and NASA missions (which pay more) and SpaceX’s revenue will easily top $2 billion.
The industry isn’t yet clear as to what SpaceX’s launch manifest for 2019 might be, but few doubt it will be less than 40 launches and it might be many more (business magazine Forbes talks about 45). Musk has made no secret of his wish to ramp up the turnaround and inspection stage for his Block 5 highly-reusable rockets.
Forbes reckons that in launch revenues alone SpaceX should be achieving $2.7 billion – $2.8 billion next year. Forbes says that add in early revenues from SpaceX’s ‘Starlink’ broadband-by-satellite services and the $25 billion – $27 billion valuation it gave SpaceX earlier this year could easily translate into $32 billion during 2019.