SpaceX plans likely spinoff and IPO for Starlink broadband division

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching into the sky.
Enlarge / A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying 60 Starlink satellites launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on January 29, 2020.

SpaceX is likely to spin out its Starlink broadband business, SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell said today at an investor event.

“Right now, we are a private company, but Starlink is the right kind of business that we can go ahead and take public,” Shotwell said at the event, according to a Bloomberg article. “That particular piece is an element of the business that we are likely to spin out and go public.”

While CEO Elon Musk has kept SpaceX private, a Starlink public offering would “giv[e] investors a chance to buy into one of the most promising operations within the closely held company,” Bloomberg wrote.

A spinout does not appear to be imminent or definite. CNBC reported that “SpaceX is considering spinning off its Starlink satellite business and taking it public in the next several years.”

“SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in May told reporters that Starlink could bring in revenue of $30 billion a year—or about 10 times the highest annual revenue it expects from its core rocket business,” CNBC also wrote.

SpaceX’s Starlink division has Federal Communications Commission approval to launch 11,943 broadband satellites into low Earth orbits and is seeking permission to launch as many as 30,000 more. Unlike existing services delivered from satellites in geostationary orbits, SpaceX says its low-Earth satellites should be able to deliver high-speed broadband and latencies as low as 25ms. Current satellite ISPs have latencies of around 600ms, according to FCC measurements,

SpaceX, which plans to offer broadband service in parts of the US later this year, made its latest launch of 60 Starlink satellites last week. SpaceX now has about 230 satellites in orbit.

Being part of SpaceX is a big advantage for Starlink when it comes to launching satellites, so any spinoff would likely be accompanied by a deal ensuring continued access to SpaceX’s low-cost, reusable Falcon 9 rocket.


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