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SpaceX’s Launch Control Room: 3 Rocket Missions in 31 Hours


“No one really knows anything in regards to the financials of SpaceX,” said Mr. Lionnet. “No balance sheet or financial report is on the market. We now have a really large company of 10,000 people — a principal contractor to NASA and the Defense Department — and there is totally no information available on its financial health.”

In 2020, the investment bank Morgan Stanley assessed the worth of SpaceX at $100 billion, and its Starship rocket alone as an $11 billion business. Regular Starship flights, Morgan Stanley said, would make Starlink, SpaceX’s high-speed web from space service, profitable. By 2030, the bank forecast Starship could be launching 10,000 tons of payloads into orbit per yr. Mr. Lionnet said that for the maths to work, by 2040, Starship would need to launch 46,000 tons. That is the equivalent of launching 100 complete International Space Stations a yr.

The implicit assumption, he said, is that if the worth of launch drops loads, “you’ll significantly increase the demand.” But, he asks, “What could possibly be using all that mass?”

He added that there’s one case where the numbers do work for SpaceX.

“It might be that, at a basic level, the goal of SpaceX isn’t to make profit, but slightly, to go to Mars,” Mr. Lionnet said. “When you buy into that, nothing else really means anything. And at any time when Musk comes for money, he at all times finds people to present it to him.”

Seven hours after the liftoff of Crew-5, one other Falcon 9 stood on a launchpad at Vandenberg Space Force Base, three hours northwest of Los Angeles and far closer to SpaceX’s headquarters. The first mission control facility was still monitoring the astronauts’ journey, so a second team worked in an adjoining, much smaller mission control center.

The client for Wednesday’s second launch was SpaceX itself — the flight would carry 52 of the corporate’s Starlink web satellites to orbit. SpaceX currently has 3,200 of the satellites in space, with the goal of launching about 39,000 more in the approaching years.

Behind a veil of fog on the launch site stood a rocket that had flown 13 times, and it was a go for launch.

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