SpaceX employees were recently put on notice by the company’s infamous leader Elon Musk, who informed them bankruptcy could be on the horizon for the company. It’s notable for the broadband industry, considering the company’s Starlink satellite broadband unit is currently being vetted by the FCC for close to $1 billion in RDOF funding.
According to a CNBC report, Musk recently sent an email to SpaceX employees, warning them that lack of progress with one of the company’s rocket engine programs is causing delays, that if not addressed may lead the company into bankruptcy.
An excerpt from Musk’s email said, “We face genuine risk of bankruptcy if we cannot achieve a Starship flight rate of at least once every two weeks next year,” according to the report.
Starship is SpaceX’s massive rocket, designed to carry large payloads into space, but is unrelated to the company’s Starlink satellite broadband service. Musk is obviously counting on Starship generating significant revenue for the private company.
Given the source and his history of unpredictable behavior, it’s hard to put any realistic odds on Musk’s warning. It could be his own unique employee motivation tool.
But, given the amount of scrutiny SpaceX has already received regarding its provisional RDOF program winnings, it certainly doesn’t help Starlink’s case for receiving that $1 billion to help fund broadband availability in rural areas.
Concerns have been raised about the low earth orbit satellite broadband platform’s ability to serve hundreds of thousands of locations with adequate broadband, given its unproven history. Add Musk’s comments about SpaceX bankruptcy possibilities, and it would seem the FCC would be hard pressed to approve that funding.
But then again, SpaceX and Musk have proven adept at pushing through their agenda at the FCC with relative ease. Makes you wonder though. What if the FCC does approve the funding and Musk’s warning of bankruptcy proves true? What happens then?
2 thoughts on “Musk Hints at SpaceX Bankruptcy Possibility, Not the Best News for Starlink RDOF Vetting”
The Galvin’s of Motorola tried this starting back in the 1980’s only then it was for phone services. The known shortcomings of satellite transmissions were known then and the assumptions that they would be resolved by time launch happened or soon after did not come to pass. Everyone have their Iridium phone? It works, just not indoors and it is still expensive although cost has come down. The problems of weather dropping signals and uniform coverage are still problems and nothing I have seen tells me that Starlink has solved them. The 100% churn rate of Dish TV is a testimony to the issue. Improved but not solved. Starlink in my mind is at best an adjunct service to the land based Fixed Wireless and fiber solutions, never a dependable main source of telecom services.
Still Starlink could be a viable business just not as a dominate supplier. That’s what TelecomJim says.
The LEO satellites of StarLink spend 95% of the time over oceans, sahara deserts, and siberian where there are no human beings at all. So it can never provide enough capacity for the broadband subscribers of nearly a million at 100mbps. In addition, the life span of LEO is only about 5 years. All the LEO satellites will burn even before the RDOF program completes.
All the Starlink LEO satellites rely on data exchange station on the ground, most of which are built in locations side by side with CenturyLink data exchanges in rural area. The only way for Elon to possibly fulfill his promise of RDOF ambition is to acquire LUMN – the King of Fiber, the largest Internet backbone carrying 50+% of Internet traffic, and rule the broadband in the US rural area,