SpaceX lands another Falcon Heavy contract; seeks big loan


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Capitalism in space: SpaceX has signed another Falcon Heavy launch contract, this time with the satellite company Viasat.

What is interesting here is that Viasat had previously had a Falcon Heavy contract, but switched to the Ariane 5 because of the long delays leading to the rocket’s first launch. That they have returned indicates that there is a strong need for a rocket that can lift this kind of large payload, even as a large part of the satellite industry is also miniaturizing.

In related news, SpaceX is reported to be negotiating for a half billion dollar loan.

Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX is seeking to borrow $500 million in the leveraged loan market, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is leading the talks with potential investors this week, said the people, who asked not to be identified because plan is private. Spokesmen for Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

This is especially interesting, based on the company’s philosophy to avoid taking government development money. While Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman, and ULA recently accepted Air Force rocket development subsidies ranging from half a billion to a billion dollars for future military launches, SpaceX did not. Some reports suggested this meant the Air Force was going to exclude SpaceX in future contract bidding, a suggestion that I think is patently false.

This loan probably relates to development of the BFR, and will allow SpaceX to build it according to its desires, not the Air Force’s.

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3 comments

  • wayne

    semi-related:

    Tesla actually showed a profit for the latest reporting Quarter.

  • pzatchok

    Think of cash as fuel for a company.

    With all the other guys getting “free” money from the government Space X has to keep up otherwise the rest have a chance of passing them in development and implementation.

    I think Space X is making the better choice, a loan instead of a slave collar to the government.

    If I had been granted my wish and won the Mega Millions lottery I would have taken the cash payout and then would have been able to finance the whole thing. (For a piece of the company)

  • Dick Eagleson

    pzatchok,

    SpaceX is in no danger of falling behind its competitors. The three companies that won USAF money in the recent Phase 1 LSA program are all going to use it to build rockets that won’t even enter testing for 2.5 years or more. None of the proposed rockets will be superior to what SpaceX has right now. New Glenn will be roughly a peer of Falcon Heavy. Vulcan and OmegA will be expendable and expensive. By the time these vehicles appear, SpaceX may already have begun orbital tests of BFR.

    Going the loan route is not only far better than angling for government development money, it is also an indication of SpaceX’s financial strength. Up to now, SpaceX has only raised large tranches of cash by selling off equity. Loans are preferable at this stage of the company’s life. So even if you’d walked into Elon’s office, Mega Millions lump sum check in hand, he probably would have politely shown you the door rather than surrender any additional equity.

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