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Elon Musk is making rocket launches mundane and that could be worth tens of billions of dollars.
SpaceX could become a $50 billion juggernaut through its launch of a satellite broadband network, a team of Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a report Thursday.
The private space company on Wednesday launched its 15th rocket this year, and the second this week. More importantly, the Falcon 9 rocket launch was the third time SpaceX reused the first stage booster, and with each of these so-called "flight-proven" launches, it should be easier to attract new customers.
Morgan Stanley says SpaceX developing reusable rockets is "an elevator to low Earth orbit."
"When Elisha Otis demonstrated the safety elevator in 1854, the public may have struggled to comprehend the impact on architecture and city design. Roughly 20 years later, every multistory building in New York, Boston, and Chicago was constructed around a central elevator shaft," Morgan Stanley said. "It all comes down to SpaceX."
Reducing the cost to launch a satellite to about $60 million, from the $200 million that United Launch Alliance charged through most of the last decade, was a monumental breakthrough. SpaceX is trying to reduce its cost to $5 million per mission, and Morgan Stanley says the launch business "generates limited operating income."
The cash cow, to Morgan Stanley, is the SpaceX plan to launch a satellite broadband network in two years and send humans to Mars in seven.
"The goal of the satellite internet business is to generate enough cash to be able to go to Mars" the research firm said, adding that it believes Musk is serious about his goal of planetary expansion.
SpaceX has denied that it is preparing an initial public offering, but Morgan Stanley says the prospect should not be counted out. Upcoming projects will require significant amounts of money. "It seems reasonable to us to consider whether the company could look to access capital in the public markets," the analysts said.
With "substantial room to increase the investment in space," Morgan Stanley says that "public investors will start to pay more attention to space when or if SpaceX decides to IPO."