SpaceX launches 60 Starlink Satellites: Aims at Massive Market Opportunity
Could moving vehicles be Starlink’s next market opportunity?
At 3:13 a.m. the Florida night sky lit up with a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying 60 satellites into orbit. The launch marks the 21st time SpaceX has carried Starlink satellites into space and keeps pushing the company closer to its goal of 1,440 Starlink satellites for its “first tranche” of service.
The Bigger Picture: Why Starlink is Vital to SpaceX
The continued pace of Starlink satellites is important because the company just announced widespread availability of the service after a Beta test that saw just 10,000 users testing out Starlink’s constellation of satellites.
The key test will be in the coming months. Today, users have reported speed tests on Starlink that measure past 200 Mbps, and the company’s latency is a fraction of competitors like Viasat and HughesNet.
However, as the Starlink network welcomes hundreds of thousands of new users in the coming months, data usage will skyrocket. In total, Starlink has approval for more than 12,000 satellites in its network. A network of that size would put Starlink in a league of its own. For example, Iridium’s satellite constellation has just 66 operating satellites.
Starlink: What It Needs to Do to IPO
Starlink recently made news when Elon Musk tweeted the satellite constellation could spin-off from SpaceX and IPO once the company “can predict cash flow reasonably well.”
Of course, it’s that caveat of predicting cash flow reasonably well that will determine if a Starlink IPO is in the cards.
Previously leaked SpaceX internal documents predicted the service could reach 40 million subscribers and top $30 billion in revenue. That would constitute 83% of SpaceX sales.
How does Starlink plan to get to that level? Estimates for the potential market for U.S. broadband sit at about $12 billion annually, a far cry from SpaceX’s projections.
However, as Starlink adds satellites, SpaceX continues to push the service internationally. International revenues could increase Starlink’s total addressable market (TAM) by several-fold.
The next clue on where Starlink could find more revenue came on March 8th, when the company filed with the FCC to begin providing satellite Internet service to moving cars.
With most cars now coming equipped for high-speed data and the Internet of Things pushing the number of connected devices to dizzying heights, success in moving vehicles could open up a massive market to Starlink.
(Count me in on wanting a Tesla connected to Starlink that could keep data connections even on remote roads!!)
The key to achieving its goals: successfully growing its network of satellites and extending its lead over would-be rivals like OneWeb and Amazon’s Project Kuiper.
On that front, Starlink’s successful launch today is just one more sign a Starlink IPO inches closer every single day.
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