SpaceX is planning a funding round to raise $750 million at a $137 billion valuation. The round is being organized by Andreessen Horowitz, a venture capital firm that is better known as the digital asset startup-supporting company “a16z.” Andreessen Horowitz also has a $400 million stake in Twitter now that it has been taken private.
SpaceX raised $2 billion in previous funding rounds in 2022. Its most recent funding round valued the company at $127 billion.
The space launch side of SpaceX’s business saw a busy year with 61 launches, almost double the 31 launches it conducted in 2021. According to company statistics, 92% of its launches reused a Falcon 9 first stage booster. Landing, refurbishing, and relaunching the first stage boosters is one major factor in SpaceX’s ability to stay competitive as a space launch company.
SpaceX bolstered its image as a company that can launch hardware for international organizations with its final launch of 2022, which sent an Israeli satellite into orbit. It also launched a robotic lunar mission for the UAE and Japan last year.
SpaceX showed a willingness to treat satellite Internet competitor OneWeb like just another customer despite past disputes by stepping up to launch some of OneWeb’s satellites. OneWeb was one of a few European organizations that were left scrambling for alternative launch services after Europe slapped sanctions on Russia for invading Ukraine.
Elon Musk previously said that SpaceX aims to conduct as many as 100 launches in 2023. It got an early start with the launch of Transporter-6, a “rideshare” mission that sent 114 satellites into a sun-synchronous orbit for a wide variety of private companies and government organizations. Transporter-6 saw the 15th use of a first stage booster for the second time in SpaceX’s history.
SpaceX also has more than 1 million subscribers to its Starlink satellite Internet service, which starts at $110 a month. It frequently launches satellites for the Starlink constellation, which currently has more than 3,000 functional satellites in orbit. The ambitious constellation could grow into the tens of thousands, which has caused some controversy over the possibility of contributing to the orbiting “space junk” problem.
Starlink satellites can maneuver to avoid collisions but the past dispute with OneWeb involved an alleged close call. OneWeb claims one of its satellites nearly collided with a Starlink satellite while being launched, which SpaceX disputed.
It can deliver Internet service to remote or low-income regions that previously did not have reliable Internet infrastructure. SpaceX has shown a willingness to negotiate with school districts and governments to provide Internet services to populations that are not easy to reach or may not be able to afford Internet service on their own.
SpaceX president Gwynn Shotwell previously said Starlink will be an important part of funding trips to Mars.
Despite an impressive 2022, SpaceX has faced challenges like difficulty getting approval from the FAA for an orbital test of the Starship/Super Heavy stack. Hangups include a required environmental review and the sheer number of public comments that the FAA received. SpaceX recently appointed Gwynn Shotwell as Starship’s manager, perhaps hoping to iron out some of the wrinkles that may be holding up progress with Starship development.
SpaceX means for Starship to be the heavy hitter of its operational rocket models. Proposed uses include delivering critical cargo like humanitarian supplies to any point on Earth quickly. NASA chose SpaceX to develop a Starship-derived lunar lander for the Artemis Program. Elon Musk previously said that Starship will be important for sending people and equipment to Mars.
The $750 million that SpaceX plans to raise could be used for Starship development. Just don’t count on getting in on it unless you’re an accredited investor. Any outside party offering SpaceX shares is probably a scammer.