SpaceX COO Gwynn Shotwell says that SpaceX will likely spinoff the Starlink satellite network with an IPO. SpaceX is launching 60 Starlink satellites with every Falcon 9 launch. They are four successful launches from minimum global coverage.
420 satellites are needed for minor broadband coverage of Earth and 780 of the first ~1600 for moderate coverage. It would make sense to IPO after they have moderate coverage or full Northern hemisphere coverage. A spinout IPO would normally give current SpaceX owners shares of the spinout company. SpaceX would get cash from the IPO and SpaceX would retain shares in Starlink that were not sold in the IPO.
SpaceX expects more than US$30 billion in revenue by 2025 (or 2026) from its satellite constellation, while revenues from its launch business were expected to reach US$5 billion in the same year.
It Starlink achieves $50 billion per year in revenue in 2025-2027 then they would have revenue that is double the annual budget of NASA. Direct TV provides satellite TV services and it has $40 billion per year in revenue.
Internet traffic via a geostationary satellite has a minimum theoretical round-trip latency of at least 477 ms (between user and ground gateway), but current geostationary satellites have average latencies of 600 ms or more. Starlink satellites would orbit at 1⁄30 to 1⁄105 of the height of geostationary orbits, and will have Earth-to-sat latencies of around 25 to 35 ms. This latency will be comparable to existing cable and fiber networks. The latency will be lower for Starlink than any earth system for distances greater than 2000 miles. This is because light travels faster in a vacuum than in a fiber. The system will use a peer-to-peer protocol simpler than IPv6. It will have end-to-end encryption natively.
Starlink satellites use Hall-effect thrusters with krypton gas as the reaction mass for orbit raising and station-keeping. Krypton Hall thrusters tend to exhibit significantly higher erosion of the flow channel compared to a similar electric propulsion system operated with xenon, but at a lower propellant cost.
SpaceX has submitted requests to add 30,000 satellites for Starlink 3.0. They had 20 filings to the ITU (International Telecommunications for 1,500 satellites apiece in various low Earth orbits. SpaceX had originally filed for an initial Starlink network of 4425 satellites. Once the first 1000 satellites are up they will be able to start operation.