If you’ve been reading over the past day, you know that I yesterday wrote a piece wondering if the reportedly stretched finances of entrepreneur Elon Musk are of interest not only to Tesla Motors, the pre-IPO electric car company where he is CEO, but also of the space exploration company SpaceX, which Musk founded and where he is both CEO and CTO. (Musk, who made his fortune as a PayPal cofounder, has since invested all of his liquid assets in both companies.)
My interest was piqued after reading a WSJ piece reporting that SpaceX “needs a cash infusion of more than $1 billion in the next year or two to reach its goal of transporting astronauts to the international space station later this decade.” The story went on to suggest that, given the Obama administration’s plans to turn space travel over to private companies, “U.S. taxpayers are the most likely source of future assistance.”
SpaceX board member (and fellow PayPal cofounder) Luke Nosek, told me today that Musk’s personal financial picture is irrelevant. The reason, he said, is that SpaceX is expected to be profitable this year, as it has been for the past several years, owing to some very rich contracts. One is with Loral Space & Communications. A much bigger contract, valued at $1.6 billion, is with NASA, which is counting on SpaceX, as well as one of its competitor, Orbital Sciences, to transport cargo to the International Space Station once it retires its last shuttle in November.
Tonight, Musk writes in with some more data points that are worth publishing.