SpaceX Starlink Profitable in 2023 and Starts Countdown to Starlink IPO

Starlink has achieved positive cash flow and is on track to turn a profit in 2023 and this starts a countdown to a Starlink IPO.

Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite-based internet service, recorded its first quarter of positive cash flow in 2022 and is on track to turn a profit this year, said SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell.

Shotwell made the comments while speaking at the FAA’s annual Commercial Space Transportation conference in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, although she didn’t specify which quarter was profitable for the company.

“This year, Starlink will make money. We actually had a cash flow positive quarter last year,” Shotwell said.

Starlink and Starshield Revenue

Starlink ended 2022 with over 1 million subscribers. Those subscribers are spread across a variety of different Starlink tiers from residential users which pay about $110USD per month, or the equivalent in their currency. Starlink RV internet costs $135 per month with an up-front $599 equipment fee. Starlink Business costs $500 per month with a $2,500 one-time equipment fee. Starlink Maritime are high at $5,000 a month with an upfront, but one-time, hardware setup of $10,000 for two satellite dishes. Starlink Aviation costs anywhere from $12,500 to $25,000 per month.

Starlink residential revenue is limited by the number of dishes they can make and deploy each month. They had reached 150,000 per month in 2022. This rate of dishes would mean about 3 million customers at the end of 2023.

The satellites currently in space can support 5-10 million customers. They will have about 100 Starlink launches of Gen 1 and Gen 2 satellites in 2023. This would provide the capacity for 20-30 million Starlink customers and 20-100 million direct mobile phone text and phone customers via T-mobile and other cellphone partners. SpaceX should be able to increase dish production to 500,000 per month by mid-2023 and then 1 million per month around the end of 2023. This would mean ending 2023 with about 6-10 million Starlink customers. Starlink should have solid and predictable profit growth around Q3 or Q4 2023.

Starshield will get billions of dollars each year in government and military communication services.

SpaceX is expanding its Starlink satellite technology into military applications with a new business line called Starshield. SpaceX’s website describes Starshield as a “secured satellite network for government entities” with an “initial focus” on direct delivery of processed Earth observation data, secure global communications enabled by inter-satellite laser links, and satellite buses for hosting “the most demanding customer payload missions.

Starshield is the center of an “end-to-end” offering for national security: SpaceX would build everything from the ground antennas to the satellites, launch the latter with its rockets, and operate the network in space. Starshield uses “additional high-assurance cryptographic capability to host classified payloads and process data securely,” building upon the data encryption it uses with its Starlink system.

Another key feature: the “inter-satellite laser communications” links. SpaceX currently uses lasers for direct satellite-to-satellite communication. Terminals can be added to “partner satellites,” so as to connect other companies’ government systems “into the Starshield network.”

There are 30000 employees of the NSA, 20000 employees of CIA, 16000 defence intelligence agency. The US will eventually need to secure communications for 200k-500k for intelligence, top and key military, and some politicians. Starshield would be the most secure method of communications. If the monthly charge for secure Starlink dishes was $500 per month or $1000 per month then it would only take 50k to 100k users to reach $600 million-$1.2B per year in Starshield revenue. The US government would need to double that for secure servers, ground stations and secure software. There are 20,000 Starlink terminals in Ukraine. I would expect the US to at least 10X the Ukraine terminals in 2023 or 2024.

6 thoughts on “SpaceX Starlink Profitable in 2023 and Starts Countdown to Starlink IPO”

  1. SpaceX and Starlink are amazing companies representing blue sky possibilities. Throwing in UKrain politics into the article – the opposite.

    Why not follow the lead of Elon Musk? Who clearly sees something about UKrain, that B. Wang does not. He knows the so called, ungrateful, grifter leadership is on a NATO mission so he acquiesces. For the time being, with limits, being mindful of his defense contracts and looking at the bigger picture. UKrain is a distraction and literally takes resources away from his planetary vision. It is a hell hole, in more ways than one.

    Fact: UKrain lost the physical war last March.
    If Russia loses it’s hybrid war with NATO, it will be due to internal economic and social upheaval. Starshield will play a part if that comes to pass. Real time ship/cargo interdiction could be a game changer for sanctions and embargoes enforcement. Russia can counter 1,000 Abrams tanks and 200 F 16s, but it only has a few dozen attack submarines to oppose the US Navy, along with NATOs, on the high seas. It does have an edge with it’s nuclear ice breakers and long coastline, but that Arctic route has limited shipping tonnage.

    Buying time for it’s (SS) implementation may be why the US continues to back a losing (militarily) effort.

    Starshield is baked into the incipient dna of Starlink and SpaceX. It has only just been overtly developed, or formalized. A precondition was (supposedly) Trump’s idea for the Space Force branch, which has no reason to currently exist, except for SpaceX.

    SpaceX IPO… I would bet big on that.

  2. In keeping with the Desert Shield/Desert Storm naming convention, we now have Star Shield. What’s next, massive Starlink controlled drone swarms – Star Storm?

  3. So will someone soon have an incentive to do a deliberate Kessler syndrome?
    If one side in a conflict gets way more military benefit from satellites than the 2nd side, the 2nd side might decide to launch a few loads of gravel into orbits of certain altitudes.

  4. Maybe the pushback about Ukrainian “weaponization” of Starlink is because that’s supposed to be done through Starshield at a higher price instead. The idea of using Starlink aircraft terminals on drones like Bayraktar and greatly enhancing controllable range and data streaming has been pretty obvious all along. Drones could easily be controlled from anywhere in the world.

    I think a later SpaceX Starship military service will be re-entry boxes that it drops from orbit or a ballistic arc in Space – that release drones or missiles of all sorts in mid air anywhere. Starshield could link to them.

    • Or maybe it has something to do with Ukraine utilizing their drones for chemical weapons usage (contrary to the Geneva conventions). The starlink news seems to have come only one day after it was confirmed that this was happening.

      • Get with the times. Believing Russian fantasy was LAST month. This month the internet trend is going back to believing X-files claims about UFOs.
        And it’s nearly March when the Loch Ness Monster is due for a comeback.

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