SpaceX raised $250 million from five unnamed investors in the latest equity funding round, bringing the total amount raised in 2022 to $2 billion. It did not disclose the valuation in this funding round.
In its May funding round, SpaceX was valued at $127 billion. Unlike Tesla, SpaceX is not a publicly traded company. Instead, it attracts investment from private investors. While private investors might sometimes sell their shares to somebody else, any “broker” or financial advisor offering stock in SpaceX is probably committing fraud. Elon Musk has occasionally floated the idea of spinning Starlink off as a separate company and conducting an IPO.
SpaceX likely plans to use the money to fund development for the Starship-Super Heavy rocket and Starlink. The orbital test for Starship has been repeatedly delayed due to the FAA’s regulatory requirements, which include going through all the public comments it received and studies of the environmental impact of Starship-related activity.
Elon Musk has floated the possibility of moving Starship testing to Cape Canaveral in Florida. He occasionally expressed frustration with the process required by regulatory agencies like the FAA, which possibly decided to increase its scrutiny after a few Starship prototypes suffered fiery disintegrations during high-altitude tests. SpaceX finally nailed it with a test of the SN15 prototype.
SpaceX launches new Starlink satellites every couple of weeks to build the capacity of its satellite Internet service. It recently received approval to provide Internet service for offshore applications like oil rigs and boats. SpaceX signed deals with airlines like the charter plane service JSX to provide in-flight Internet service. Starlink can also provide service for large land vehicles like RVs and buses. (Mounting a Starlink terminal to the hood of your car is still not a good idea, though.)
Investors may be attracted by multi-million-dollar contracts offered by NASA, including the Commercial Crew program that regularly ferries astronauts to the International Space Station on the SpaceX Crew Dragon. So far, SpaceX has the only privately owned spacecraft that is approved for crewed spaceflight, though Boeing has been making progress with the delayed Starliner. Boeing successfully sent an uncrewed Starliner to the International Space Station in a May 2022 flight test.
Axiom Space has a contract with NASA for a series of flights to the International Space Station to prepare to add inflatable modules. NASA recently decided that private flights to the International Space Station must be commanded by experienced former NASA astronauts like Peggy Whitson, who will command the AX-2 mission.
The Crew Dragon is also used (and reused) for private flights like Inspiration4. SpaceX plans to use it for the Polaris Program, which will take the Crew Dragon to altitudes that are comparable to the 1960s’ Gemini Program. The Gemini Program reached altitudes up to 853 kilometers, which was an altitude record at the time. The International Space Station’s orbit can vary from 205 to 248 kilometers in altitude.
Goals for the Polaris Program include testing a new EVA suit model. Inspiration4’s Jared Isaacman will command the first mission of the program, called Polaris Dawn.
Once Starship gets off the ground and becomes fully operational, SpaceX will be in a better position to justify the $2 billion in venture capital that it received so far in 2022. Musk indicated that Starship could be used for a variety of purposes like quickly sending cargo between two widely separated locations on Earth – and, in fact, the U.S. Air Force has already shown interest with a budget line item for a study on sending humanitarian supplies or critical cargo for troops where it may be needed the most.