SpaceX has closed an additional $314 million in funding to add to the $814 million that it raised in a funding round in February. The funding round came in at a company valuation of $74 billion.
Its newest investors may have been convinced by SpaceX’s current projects in development. It continues to launch satellites for its Starlink Internet service at a rapid pace, recently bringing the total number of satellites up to 1,400 out of a planned constellation of 42,000.
SpaceX is currently working with the U.S. government on a project to bring broadband Internet service to previously neglected rural areas and is also talking to the U.K. government about possibly joining Project Gigabit. It has also shown a willingness to work with school districts to bring reliable Internet access to low-income students and assist emergency responders like those in Washington State in maintaining reliable communications while fighting natural disasters like wildfires.
Although SpaceX has said that it has no plans to introduce tiered pricing, it has indicated a willingness to consider lower-cost plans for low-income customers to meet its goal of providing greater access for populations who have been left behind by the “digital divide”.
It is also selling the terminals at a loss even though they still aren’t cheap at a cost to the consumer of $499. Available figures indicate that it costs $1,500 to manufacture a terminal. SpaceX may simply expect to make that money back through the expected earnings from the currently $99 a month subscription fees for Starlink access.
Although Starship prototypes have exploded enough times to attract unwelcome attention from regulators, Elon Musk said that the company’s engineers have pinned down the loss of SN11. SpaceX has modified the SN15 prototype based on data from the high-altitude tests.
When it becomes fully operational, the Starship rocket could be used for anything from a “premium” point-to-point transportation service on Earth to sending future settlers to Mars. Elon Musk has even discussed using it to clean up “space junk”, especially satellites that have reached the end of their useful lives but add to the clutter problem in Earth orbit.
The International Space Station has had to maneuver to avoid collisions with spent rocket stages. NASA recently signed an agreement with SpaceX to share information on orbiting assets owned by either party. Most recently, a OneWeb satellite barely avoided a collision with a Starlink satellite while being launched. Such an annoyance may have sparked the complaint that ViaSat filed with regulators about the number of Starlink satellites that SpaceX plans to launch despite Musk’s sharp comment that ViaSat just wants to avoid competition.
The money raised in SpaceX’s latest funding round is likely to be used to continue development of the Starship rocket. SpaceX is also building a manufacturing facility in Austin to ramp up production of Starlink satellites and recently signed a contract to launch a lunar lander for Astrobotic. It will also launch the Crew-2 mission to the International Space Station on April 22 as part of its contract with NASA to ferry astronauts to the space station.