What’s good for Musk is good for MEA
Satellite internet company SpaceX is raising an extra $750 million from investors which could benefit Africa and the Middle East with more broadband options and wider mobile coverage.
The new round of funding values the company at $137 billion, according CNBC sources. According to an e-mail sent to prospective SpaceX investors, Andreessen Horowitz, AKA a16z, is the mooted leader of the new funding round. Early SpaceX investors were numerous and included Founders Fund, Sequoia and Gigafund. SpaceX raised more than $2 billion in 2022, including a $250 million round in July and was valued at $127 billion during an equity round in May.
Though SpaceX made great progress in 2022 it was frustrated by delays to its Starship programme, which is part of NASA’s effort to bring astronauts back to the moon. Funding from its NASA contracts keep the company in business. However the company’s satellite internet service, Starlink now has over 1 million subscribers and provides a lifeline to users in Ukraine who suffered infrastructure disruptions after Russia’s invasion. SpaceX, the pioneer of the circular economy in the space exploration sector, also managed to make more than 60 reusable rocket launches in a single year through its Falcon programme.
The company is currently continuing development of its Starship and Super Heavy launch vehicles at the company’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas. The next step of the program, which entails an orbital launch test of these larger vehicles, has yet to be announced.
NASA administrator Bill Nelson has begun to register his unease with founder SpaceX figurehead Elon Musk’s commitment. He has asked SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell about distractions, such as Musk’s takeover of twitter and subsequent revelations about the FBI’s political interference in the US elections. Nelson said he was worried that Musk’s other commitments might affect SpaceX’s work with the space agency, NBC News reported. Nelson said that Shotwell reassured him it would not.
However support looks guaranteed for now. NASA is now considering whether SpaceX can help rescue residents on the International Space Station, including an astronaut and two cosmonauts with Russia’s Roscomos, according to CNET. Russia’s Soyuz capsule sprung a coolant leak in December, and an investigation is underway to determine if the spacecraft can safely return the crew home or if emergency measures will need to be taken instead.