It's not plagiarism if you link to it. Gwynne Shotwell interview highlights.https://www.bizjournals.com/bizwomen/news/latest-news/2018/05/shes-got-the-scoop-on-spacexs-plans-for-mars.html
1. SpaceX is profitable. “We’ve had many years of profitability,” Shotwell said, pegging the company’s valuation at almost $28 billion.
This isn't surprising. I assume if they weren't in the black, they wouldn't be operating. Now, the difference between profitability and loss is exactly $0.02, but hey, in the black is in the black.
2. That September 2016 launchpad explosion had an upside. “It actually gave the production teams time to catch up,” Shotwell said. “It’s kind of a horrifying way of catching up on production to not be flying because of that issue, but it did give us time to catch up. It also gave us time on the engineering side to continue designing the upgrades,” resulting in SpaceX's latest, and final, iteration of its Falcon 9 rocket, the Block 5, which launched earlier this month.
Probably not a strategy Ariane should implement to keep it's people working...
3. SpaceX will have fewer rocket launches next year. The company has launched 10 missions so far in 2018, and Shotwell expects two to three dozen liftoffs this year. “For the rest of this year we’re flying at least a few times a month,” she said. However, the frequency of missions will decrease in 2019 — “probably roughly on the same order as 2017,” which saw 18 rocket launches.
This one is truly interesting. I have to believe SpaceX offers the quickest sale-to-launch timeline of any launch provider, based solely on the volume of launches they have scheduled. 2017 sales might have slumped due to the 2016 incident, so I expect this turn around in 2020. The only factor that might change that is miniaturization of spacecraft. So SpaceX could launch fewer rockets but put more spacecraft in orbit. Could be interesting.
4. SpaceX can produce one rocket engine per day and two Falcon 9 rockets per month. Shotwell said that this year the company will produce about 14 first-stage boosters, which SpaceX can recover for reuse, and 30 second stages. Those rates pale in comparison to Musk’s electric carmaker Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA), which is “producing thousands of cars a week,” Shotwell said.
I would guess this means about 250 engines per year, based on working days. That means enough engines to power 25 rocket stacks (both stages). However, they're going to need spares at some point, so I don't know if they'll be able to increase booster production until they can speed up engine production. There's also a real chance that there is not demand at this point to increase either production rate.
5. Satellites will be a bigger business for SpaceX than rocket launches. The company recently got FEC approval for a constellation of broadband satellites, and launched the first two prototype satellites for a global broadband Internet service dubbed Starlink. “That’s a nice way to go to make additional revenue. In addition it’s very complimentary to the work that we’re doing right now.”
I'm guessing Starlink will also provide them with communications capabilities with their rockets and spacecraft, so monetizing it with broadband service makes that effort pay for itself. Global coverage may also allow them to completely automate OCISLY and their other watercraft. As long as they can guarantee that my wifi won't cut out during a thunderstorm, sign me up.
6. SpaceX is on track to fly humans to Mars in 2024, and there will be a role for The Boring Co., yet another transportation company dreamed up by Musk, when they get there. “I think The Boring Co. could be the way that we house people on Mars,” Shotwell said. “We’ll have to dig tunnels for folks.” Shotwell said she views the Red Planet as a “stepping stone.” “I want space exploration to be like what you see in the TV shows: ‘Firefly,’ ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ ‘Star Wars,’” she said. “I want to meet other people, or whatever they call themselves. I think that really should be the ultimate goal.”
I love the vision, but I would point out that those three franchises don't represent galactic utopias. I think SpaceX might want to consider developing their flamethrowers to fire lasers. On a serious note, I appreciate her throwing shade at the Trekkies and leaving them off this list.
On an actually serious note, 2024 humans to mars still seems aggressive. If this year's remaining Falcon Heavy launches see delays as has been rumored, and the assumed slip of manned F9 launches into next year, I don't have a ton of faith they'll be able to keep BFR on schedule to support interplanetary human travel in only six years. I hope I'm wrong. Still, what an exciting time to live in: return to human flight, another FH launch, maybe some BFR hops in the next 18 months. Could be glorious.
7. SpaceX won’t go public any time soon. “We’re being very picky about who invests in the company,” Shotwell said. “They have to share our ... long-term vision and ultimately getting people to Mars. It’s a big job. It’s going to take years. And we want investors with patience as well as excitement about what we’re trying to do.”
This tells me two things:
1. They're not having any problem generating cash, either from operations or from bringing in investors.
2. They have no interest in opening up their books to public filings and being beholden to shareholders. This makes me further believe that while they're profitable, and maybe even keeping the Boring Co. and Tesla afloat, they're on thin margins. I don't think Musk is intending this effort to make him richer (honestly, would you even notice the difference at that net worth?) so they're keeping maximum control.