- SpaceX wants to surround the Earth with a large network of Internet-providing satellites called Starlink.
- Financial analysts at Morgan Stanley Research estimated that the project could increase SpaceX's basic valuation to $ 52 billion, possibly up to $ 120 billion.
- However, SpaceX has asked to nearly triple its maximum Starlink network from 12,000 to 42,000 satellites, which will result in a major investment.
- A new estimate from Morgan Stanley suggests that the additional 30,000 satellites could cost SpaceX $ 60 billion, but the report doesn't even mention the rocket company's planned low-cost rocket system, called Starship.
- If projections from SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk expire, the cost of launching Starlink could be a tenth or less the independent estimate of capital costs. [1
It's difficult to estimate the value of SpaceX, the fast-moving rocket company founded by founder Elon Musk in 2002. The same goes for the capital costs of the ambitious projects like Starlink: a plan to bathe the Earth in high-speed Internet access a fleet of thousands of satellites.
Despite the challenges, Morgan Stanley Research took a serious hit with SpaceX's mid-September valuation with a glance toward the start of Starlink.
If the new project claims only a few percent of the global telecommunications industry and earns $ 30 to $ 50 billion a year, as Musk has said, analysts expected SpaceX to grow into a $ 52 billion company. Or maybe between $ 5 and $ 120 billion, depending on the degree of failure or success with Starlink.
The key to this estimate, however, is the cost of building and launching Starlink satellites. However, as Space News reported this week, SpaceX now plans to nearly triple a maximum of 12,000 satellites to 42,000 of them.
This threw a wrench into the valuation calculation, so Morgan Stanley Research on Friday sent email reporters a brief update trying to calculate the cost of 30,000 additional Starlink satellites.
Read more : SpaceX wants to launch 5 times more spacecraft over the next decade than has ever flown in human history  Analysts now expect the capital costs associated with this change could swell to $ 60 billion – and that doesn't include the price tag to launch the other 12,000 satellites. The figure also ignores the cost of replacing all Starlink satellites every five years (something Musk told Business Insider in May during a conversation with reporters). Switching satellites can add as much as $ 12 billion a year in capital investment, Morgan Stanley Research said.
This means that the cash cow like Starlink is believed to be significantly less attractive, given the hefty and ongoing estimated price tag.  But this analysis assumes that SpaceX will use the existing and partially reusable Falcon 9 rocket system to launch all Starlink satellites. It just glosses over and doesn't even mention an upcoming and radically variable change: Starship, which is the company's planned 387-foot-tall mega rocket.
Financial analysts like to secure their bets by using as reliable, real-world factors as possible. So it is understandable that they would avoid factory work in the Starship system may not exist for many years, or at all if it cannot escape the development phase.
Still, potential cost savings with Starship are well worth considering.
& # 39; We will definitely transition to Starship & # 39;
If Starship occurs as Musk has envisioned it over the years, the two-piece steel launch system would be fully reusable and capable of being launched several times a day. This is in stark contrast to current rockets, which can take months or years to prepare for launch and only be used once, wasting countless millions per aircraft.
Through rapid reuse, Starship would boost the traditional launch industry by just costing SpaceX fuel, launching support manning, occasional refurbishment, and other rather insignificant costs.
Read more : A moving new SpaceX animation of Starship launch shows how the rocket company plans to make Texas the Earth's interplanetary transport hub
Morgan Stanley Research assumes that Starlink would come from the ground 60 satellites at a time, as SpaceX demonstrated in May, at a cost of around $ 50 million per Falcon 9 launch. The estimate also assumes that each Starlink satellite costs about $ 1 million, or on par with the OneWeb competitor's satellites.
While the update calls for Starship, it does so obliquely and without naming it – only the estimated cost per launch.
"This [estimate] also does not expect cost improvements to build and launch satellites, with SpaceX aiming to further reduce launch costs, to ~ $ 5 million," the document states.
If Starship costs $ 5 million to launch, which coincides with what Musk recently said, it's about 10 times less than a Falcon 9 launch. This means that the cost of launching 30,000 satellites with 60 satellites per launch will shrink from $ 60 billion to around $ 6 billion.
per satellite is already more than the cost of the satellite, "Musk previously told Business Insider." Starship, which would be a fully reusable system and with much lower fuel costs and on a much larger scale, will dramatically improve launch costs, probably by a factor of 10 or something like that. "
But it is also important to consider how many more Starlink satellites Starship may be able to carry at one time.
Starship could shoot multiple satellites into space into one fraction of the cost
Each of SpaceX's 60 satellites launched in May weighed about 500 kilos (227 kilos), making the total mass about 30,000 kilos (13,620 kilos) minus. According to a new website for Starship, the vehicle was able to weigh approximately 99,000 kilos (99,800 kilos) at one time – or more than seven times the Falcon 9 launched in May.
Assuming that SpaceX could and would scale up the number of Starlink satellites correspondingly – and they fit into the Starship nose cone – maybe as many as 300 or 400 could launch at the same time. This could reduce Starlink's launch costs several times, possibly to the one-digit billion range for a maximum of 42,000 satellites.
This may not be the plan, since Starlink satellites would be distributed to many different orbits, or planes, around the Earth to ensure proper internet coverage.
At least SpaceX is eager to have Starship – which Musk recently said could start flying in one or two years – start launching and distributing Starlink satellites.
Music for many launches. Hopefully, we will have Starship active if we are somewhere near 12,000 satellites, "Musk said in May." For the system to be economically viable, it really is on the order of 1,000 satellites. If we put a lot more satellites than that in orbit, that's actually a very good thing, which means there's a lot of demand for the system. "
SpaceX did not acknowledge any more requests for information and comment from Business Insider.