Ars Live: How Profitable is Starlink? Join our discussion today!

A stack of 60 Starlink satellites being launched into space, with Earth in the background.

Enlarge / A stack of 60 Starlink satellites launched in 2019. (credit: SpaceX / Flickr)

SpaceX began launching operational Starlink satellites five years ago this month. Since then, the company has been rapidly developing its constellation of broadband satellites in low-Earth orbit. SpaceX has now launched about 6,000 satellites with its Falcon 9 rocket and has delivered on its promise to provide fast Internet around the world. Today, the company is the largest satellite operator in the world by a factor of 10.

But is this massive enterprise to deliver Internet from space profitable?

According to a new report by Quilty Space, the answer is yes. Quilty built a model to assess Starlink’s profitability. First, the researchers assessed revenue. The firm estimates this will grow to $6.6 billion in 2024, up from essentially zero just four years ago. In addition to rapidly growing its subscriber base of about 3 million, SpaceX has also managed to control costs. Based upon its model, therefore, Quilty estimates that Starlink’s free cash flow from the business will be about $600 million this year.

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