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SpaceX begins accepting $99 preorders for its Starlink satellite internet service as Musk eyes IPO

The contents of the Starlink Kit for customers, which includes the satellite antenna dish, a stand, its power supply, and a WiFi router.

SpaceX

SpaceX once again widened the scope of the public beta test of its Starlink satellite internet service, with Elon Musk’s company on Monday beginning to accept preorders from potential customers.

Prospective Starlink users can enter a service address on the company’s website, with preorders available for $99. Some regions show preorder messages that say SpaceX is “targeting coverage in your area in mid to late 2021,” while other preorders say 2022.

SpaceX so far is offering Starlink to customers in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.

The company’s website emphasizes that the preorders are “fully refundable,” noting in fine print that “placing a deposit does not guarantee service.” Additionally, SpaceX says that “orders may take 6 months or more to fulfill” depending on where users are located.

SpaceX began a public beta program of Starlink in October, with service priced at $99 a month, in addition to a $499 upfront cost to order the Starlink kit, plus shipping. The kit includes the WiFi router and a user terminal, also known as a dish, to connect to the satellites.

A screenshot of the preorder page of Starlink.com on Feb. 9, 2021.

SpaceX

Starlink is SpaceX’s ambitious project to build an interconnected internet network with thousands of satellites, known in the space industry as a constellation, designed to deliver high-speed internet to consumers anywhere on the planet. The Federal Communications Commission two years ago approved SpaceX to launch 11,943 satellites, with the company aiming to deploy 4,425 satellites in orbit by 2024.

The company has launched more than 1,000 Starlink satellites to date, with plans to build and deploy even more advanced versions of its satellites.

SpaceX disclosed in an FCC filing last week that Starlink has “over 10,000 users in the United States and abroad” in about three months since the public beta began.

Musk continues to expect Starlink will IPO

A Starlink dish in the wild.

SpaceX

SpaceX’s chief executive repeated previous statements that the company plans to spin off Starlink and take it public, setting a goal for when the service would be ready for an initial public offering.

“SpaceX needs to pass through a deep chasm of negative cash flow over the next year or so to make Starlink financially viable. Every new satellite constellation in history has gone bankrupt. We hope to be the first that does not,” Musk said in a tweet.

“Once we can predict cash flow reasonably well, Starlink will IPO,” Musk said in another tweet.

Musk’s statements echo those made by SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell early last year. She said at the time that “Starlink is the right kind of business that we can go ahead and take public.”

If SpaceX can overcome the technological challenges of building and distributing the service, the company is optimistic on its potential demand and revenue. Musk in 2019 told reporters that Starlink could bring in revenue of $30 billion a year – or about 10 times the highest annual revenue it expects from its core rocket business.

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