SpaceX has turned a profit following two years of narrowing losses, according to documents seen by the Wall Street Journal.
The spaceflight company led by Elon Musk raked in revenue of $1.5 billion in the first quarter of this year, resulting in a profit of $55 million.
For all of 2022, SpaceX posted a loss of $559 million on revenue of $4.6 billion, about double what it brought in during the previous 12 months, the news outlet said.
Founded in 2002, SpaceX is privately owned and keeps its financial information under wraps, so the Journal’s findings offer some interesting insight into how the company is doing.
Much of SpaceX’s revenue comes via contracts with governments and businesses that use its rockets to deploy satellites in orbit. It also works with NASA to fly crew and cargo to the International Space Station. SpaceX operates an internet-from-space service called Starlink, too, which involves regular space flights to deploy multiple batches of small satellites. As of May 2023, Starlink reportedly had around 1.5 million paying customers globally.
SpaceX has been steadily increasing the frequency of its flights, too, made possible by its ability to refurbish its first-stage Falcon 9 boosters for a faster turnaround time.
Balancing the books has been challenging for SpaceX as it continues to spend big on developing the Starship, its next-generation rocket and spacecraft comprising the first-stage Super Heavy — the most powerful rocket ever built — and the upper-stage Starship spacecraft, which SpaceX aims to use for crew and cargo flights to the moon, Mars, and beyond.
The Starship is still in the early stages of development after suffering a midair failure during its maiden orbital test flight in April. SpaceX engineers are now working on the rocket ahead of a second orbital attempt that could take place in the coming months.
The Journal suggests that SpaceX’s results have seen a boost in part because of price increases for missions using its triple-booster Falcon Heavy rocket, and also because competitors have been grappling with delays impacting the rollout of new rockets. It also notes how the company follows a similar strategy adopted by major tech firms by investing heavily in developing aspects of its business (in SpaceX’s case Starlink and the Starship) at the expense of big profits, which will hopefully follow as a result of that investment.
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