Major questions over Musk’s Starlink plans

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Elon Musk, when he is not arguing with the SEC over Tweets, or Wall Street over missed Tesla car production targets, is frequently busy talking about his Starlink concept  – which sees thousands of satellites girdling the planet.

Just a few days ago Musk requested that SpaceX investors to raise an additional $500 million to help fund production of Starlink satellites.

Musk, according to TMF Associates, is planning to launch a batch of Starlink craft during May, but has more than a few sceptical questions for SpaceX to answer.

Satellite communications consultant Tim Farrar said that an individual antenna to pick up and connect to Starlink’s satellites will initially cost a worrying $500 each, and could fall to nearer $150 over time and as volumes increase. This is not a small investment for users although in fairness if that user is living in a ‘no reception’ area then funding an antenna would be a welcome investment for broadband access.

Farrar also quoted from a WSJ report which states that Musk’s financial team only managed to raise a mere $44 million out of an earlier $400 million cash raising exercise.

Farrar said: “That makes me wonder quite how much financial pressure SpaceX is now under. Certainly SpaceX is putting considerable pressure on others, notably the FCC, where it filed on April 5th for Special Temporary Authority to operate its initial tranche of Starlink satellites. SpaceX claims these satellites will be launched in ‘early May’, despite it not having received approval for the revised constellation plan that was filed in November 2018 and not even specifying how many satellites will be in this ‘initial tranche’.”

Farrar concludes: “Would the launch of a few more demo satellites persuade investors that it’s now worth putting more money into SpaceX to fund a questionable (some would say non-existent) Starlink business plan? Or is this going to end badly, with SpaceX running out of cash to fund both Starlink and its new Starship development projects?”


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