According to Gwynne Shotwell, the company's President, SpaceX can push its large Internet space initiative called Starlink into a separate business and make the company public. Shotwell made the comments today at an event for private investors in Miami, Florida.
An initial public offering of Starlink shares would be a big step for Elon Musk-Run Space company, which has remained private since it was founded in 2002. Musk, who is known to hate companies being traded on the stock exchange, has said in the past that there will be no SpaceX IPO until the mars vehicle is ready. "Some at SpaceX who have not gone through a public company may think that publicity is desirable," Musk wrote in an email to SpaceX employees in 2013. "That's not true. Shares of public companies, especially when it comes to major changes in technology, experience extreme volatility, both for reasons of internal execution and for reasons that have nothing to do with anything other than the economy."
According to the latest estimates of SpaceX, the company is estimated at 33.3 billion dollars, according to CNBC. Most of SpaceX's business revolved around sending satellites or cargo into orbit, with NASA, the Department of Defense, or private satellite operators serving as clients. But with Starlink, SpaceX plans to sell services directly to the general public. Customers will be able to purchase custom terminals to connect to the Starlink constellation, turning SpaceX into a consumer-focused business.
Starlink was previously touted as an important part of SpaceX's future. Musk said that the proceeds from the project will help fund sending people to the moon and mars. Right now, SpaceX is working on a new-generation Starship rocket to launch the company's interplanetary ambitions. Musk said developing Starship could cost between $2 billion and $10 billion.
SpaceX is not the only company that deals with the Internet from space. Other private companies, such as OneWeb, Kepler Communications, and even Amazon, have proposed building massive constellations to cover the Internet coverage of the Earth below. So far, only SpaceX and OneWeb have started launching satellites.
Starlink has also been a source of controversy for those in the astronomical community who are concerned that the massive constellation could spoil their observations of the night sky. Starlink satellites are particularly bright and have already spoiled images taken by telescopes on earth. SpaceX tried to mitigate this problem by covering one of its satellites to make it appear darker in the sky. It's not clear if the coverage worked, and SpaceX plans to continue launching its bright satellites.