Morgan Stanley says SpaceX’s Starship may ‘transform investor expectations’ about space


Starship prototype 20 is stacked on top of Super Heavy Booster 4 on August 6, 2021.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has become one of the world’s most valuable private companies, and Morgan Stanley believes the Starship rockets the venture is developing will have wide-reaching implications.

Starship is the massive, next-generation rocket SpaceX is developing to be fully reusable, to launch cargo and people on missions to the moon and Mars. The company is testing prototypes at a facility in southern Texas and has flown multiple short test flights.

“This technological development has the potential to transform investor expectations around the space industry,” Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas wrote in a note to investors on Monday.

“As one client put it: ‘talking about space before Starship is like talking about the internet before Google,'” Jonas added.

Morgan Stanley noted that its latest views on SpaceX come in response to CNBC reporting that the company’s valuation has hit $100 billion.

“What SpaceX is doing on the shores of South Texas is challenging any preconceived notion of what was possible and the time frame possible, in terms of rockets, launch vehicles and supporting infrastructure,” Jonas said.

In Morgan Stanley’s view, Musk’s company has created a “double flywheel” of technology development with its reusable rockets and Starlink satellites. The firm bases the majority of SpaceX’s valuation on the earning potential of the Starlink satellite internet network, which Musk has previously said could bring in as much as $30 billion in revenue a year.

“We view SpaceX’s launch capabilities and Starlink as inextricably linked whereby improvements in launch capacity/bandwidth (both in frequency and payload per flight) and cost of launch improve the economics and path to scale of Starlink’s LEO constellation,” Jonas said. “At the same time, development of Starlink’s commercial opportunity provides a thriving ‘captive customer’ for the launch business, enabling a symbiotic development.”

Notably, Morgan Stanley expects Starlink to burn about $33 billion this decade and turn cash flow positive in 2031.

Morgan Stanley last year forecast that SpaceX would become a $100 billion company – at a time when SpaceX’s valuation was nearing $44 billion.

“More than one client has told us if Elon Musk were to become the first Trillionaire… it won’t be because of Tesla. Others have said SpaceX may eventually be the most highly valued company in the world – in any industry,” Jonas said.

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