Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) disclosed having raised more than $1 billion in equity offerings during the last few months, a day after launching the first satellites for a broadband service network Elon Musk is counting on as a revenue source.
The 60 satellites placed in orbit Thursday night were built in Redmond, where SpaceX has a development office. When he announced “SpaceX Seattle” in 2015, Musk painted a picture of the satellite constellation now taking shape.
The closely held company has sold $486.2 million worth of equity in an offering involving eight investors that began in December, and $535.7 million from five investors in an offering that started in April, according to regulatory filings.
SpaceX disclosed the influx of cash after launching the first 60 satellites into orbit for its Starlink project, which involves building a constellation that beams broadband to underserved areas across the globe. Fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos is also pursuing the business of becoming a space-based internet provider.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and payload rumbled aloft Thursday at 10:30 p.m. local time from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Minutes later, SpaceX successfully recovered the Falcon 9’s first stage on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean. The satellites began deployment about 62 minutes after the launch, as planned.
A space-based internet service will be an important source of funding for Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX, Musk has said. He founded the company in 2002 with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.
“We see this as a way for SpaceX to generate revenue that can be used to develop more advanced rockets and spaceships,” Musk told journalists during a conference call last week, before the launch was delayed by high winds. “This is a key stepping stone on the way toward establishing a self-sustaining city on Mars and a base on the moon.”
Musk said that revenue from launching rockets for customers peaks at about $3 billion a year, but that he believes internet service revenue could be $30 billion a year.
SpaceX has not announced any customers for the Starlink service. Several more launches of roughly 60 satellites each will be required before a service would be operational.
Seattle Times staff contributed to this report.