31 hours inside SpaceX Mission Control

31 hours inside SpaceX Mission Control

31 hours inside SpaceX Mission Control

“Nobody really knows anything about SpaceX’s finances,” Mr. Lionnet said. “No balance sheet or financial report is available. We have a very large company of 10,000 people – a prime contractor for NASA and the Department of Defense – and there is absolutely no information available on its financial health.

In 2020, investment bank Morgan Stanley valued SpaceX at $100 billion and its Starship rocket alone at $11 billion. Regular Starship flights, Morgan Stanley said, would make Starlink, SpaceX’s high-speed internet service from space, profitable. By 2030, the bank projected that Starship would launch 10,000 tons of payloads into orbit per year. Mr Lionnet said that for the calculations to work, by 2040 Starship would have to launch 46,000 tonnes. This is equivalent to launching 100 full international space stations per year.

The implicit assumption, he said, is that if the introductory price drops a lot, “you’ll increase demand dramatically.” But, he asks, “what could all this mass be used for?”

He added that there is a case where the numbers work for SpaceX.

“It may be that, at its core, SpaceX’s goal is not to make a profit, but rather to go to Mars,” Mr. Lionnet said. “If you buy into that, nothing else really means anything. And whenever Musk comes looking for money, he always finds people to give it to him.

Seven hours after Crew-5 lifted off, another Falcon 9 stood on a launch pad at Vandenberg Space Force Base, three hours northwest of Los Angeles and much closer to SpaceX headquarters. The main mission control facility still monitored astronaut travel, so a second team worked in an adjacent, much smaller mission control center.

The customer for Wednesday’s second launch was SpaceX itself – the flight would carry 52 of the company’s Starlink internet satellites into orbit. SpaceX currently has 3,200 satellites in space, with the goal of launching around 39,000 more in the coming years.

Behind a veil of fog at the launch site stood a rocket that had flown 13 times, and it was off to launch.


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