Elon Musk has denied reports on Business Insider and Teslarati that SpaceX is considering a new funding round with a valuation of $92 billion in a tweet replying to Teslarati. SpaceX closed a fundraise of $1.6 billion with a valuation of $46 billion in August, added new launch contracts to its roster, and completed 25 successful launches this year. So it is unlikely to be hurting for cash so soon after its most recent funding round.
This is incorrect
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 17, 2020
Highlights of SpaceX’s year include a successful crewed Demo-2 mission that came down in the Gulf of Mexico in May and the launch of the Crew-1 mission in November. Both missions ferried astronauts to the International Space Station from American soil for the first time since the retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttle.
These launches were covered by NASA’s Commercial Crew program and will continue starting in 2021 under an ongoing contract to send crews to the space station. SpaceX also recently scored a $53 million contract from NASA for an orbital refueling test that is likely to look similar to the midair refueling capacities of military airplanes. It is also currently working on a $149 million custom satellite for the Department of Defense’s Space Development Agency. Government agencies especially like the reusable nature of the Falcon 9 to save taxpayer dollars while launching satellites and have approved the use of previously flown boosters for the launch of some hardware like GPS satellites.
SpaceX also has plans to launch privately funded crewed missions, including one that will be commanded by retired NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria and is backed by Axiom Space. This mission is currently aiming for a late 2021 launch date.
The launches for 2020 also included several satellites, including an ocean observation satellite named Sentinel-6 and hundreds of Starlink satellites. Starlink’s Internet service is currently going through public beta testing and already helping populations who have been held back by lack of reliable Internet service. With new licenses to operate in Australia and the southern part of Canada, plus authorization from the United States’ FCC to bid for the development of broadband service, Starlink is likely to become one of SpaceX’s most popular products even with people who have not thought much about space satellites.
The company did lose SN8, a prototype for its Starship test, in an ambitious launch test. Despite some claims that the test was a failure due to the explosion upon landing, SpaceX engineers say they got all the data they needed from the test. SpaceX already has the similar prototypes SN9 and SN10 ready for testing, although SN9 was reportedly looking a little tipsy.
Despite the loss of SN8, though, the successful year and most recent funding round means that SpaceX is unlikely to need any further fundraising anytime soon. Elon Musk has not yet clarified what he meant by the tweet, “This is incorrect.”
This comment doesn’t take the possibility of future funding rounds off the table. It may simply mean that Business Insider’s writing staff made errors while trying to push news out quickly. Musk has not yet commented on which part of the theoretical new funding round with a valuation of $92 billion was inaccurate.
Musk may simply not want to hurt any possible negotiations with investors by giving the impression that SpaceX is desperate enough to pursue new funding so soon after its August funding round. Or he may mean that SpaceX’s stellar 2020 and setup for a possibly even better 2021 means that it is pushing past the point where it needs frequent influxes of cash from investors.