(CNBC) – SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on Monday reiterated the likelihood that his private space company will likely take its Starlink satellite internet service public in the coming years.
“We will probably IPO Starlink, but only several years in the future when revenue growth is smooth & predictable,” Musk said in a tweet. “Public market does not like erratic cash flow haha.”
SpaceX leadership has previously discussed the idea, with company President Gwynne Shotwell in February telling a group of investors in February that “Starlink is the right kind of business that we can go ahead and take public,” adding that the company could spin it off.
But a month later Musk downplayed the idea, saying that SpaceX was not focused on a Starlink IPO and “thinking about that zero.” Instead, Musk at the time said SpaceX’s goal was for Starlink “to be in the ‘not bankrupt’ category,” noting the number of companies that have fallen short of building satellite internet networks in the early 2000s.
Starlink represents the company’s ambitious plan to build an interconnected internet satellite network, also known as a “constellation,” to beam high-speed internet anywhere on the planet. The full Starlink network would consist of 11,943 satellites flying close to the planet, closer than the International Space Station, in what is known as low Earth orbit.
Musk sees Starlink as a key “way for SpaceX to generate revenue that can be used to develop more and more advanced rockets and spaceships,” he told reporters last year. Musk estimated that Starlink could bring in revenue of $30 billion a year – or about 10 times the highest annual revenue SpaceX expects from its core rocket business.
The company is currently building a system of ground stations and user terminals, to connect consumers directly to its network. It told the FCC in July that SpaceX is building 120 satellites per month, as well as thousands of the small terminals that consumers will use to connect to the network. Additionally, SpaceX has said that Starlink is already seeing “extraordinary demand” from potential customers, with “nearly 700,000 individuals” across the U.S. indicating they are interested in the company’s coming service.
SpaceX has been conducting a private beta test of Starlink over this summer, which the company recently said has showed the network’s internet speeds are capable of playing online video games and streaming movies. Employees have been testing Starlink’s latency and download speeds, key measures for an internet service provider.
Most recently SpaceX asked the FCC to expand testing further, with the company wanting to begin demonstrations using its oceangoing fleet of vessels.
SpaceX plans to begin a public beta test of Starlink once the private beta test concludes. The company aims to offer Starlink as a commercial service before the end of this year in the northern U.S. and southern Canada, with plans for “near-global coverage of the populated world in 2021.”