Blaming inflation, SpaceX raises Starlink and launch prices

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WASHINGTON — SpaceX has raised prices for both its Starlink broadband service and for dedicated and rideshare launches, in some cases by up to 20%, citing inflation.

The company advised customers of its Starlink service March 22 of a price increase for both the service itself as well as the terminal. The cost of the service, which had been $99 in the United States, increased 11% to $110. The terminal, which cost $499 in the U.S., increased to $549 for those who had already paid a deposit and $599 for new customers, the latter a 20% increase. Starlink customers in other countries have reported getting similar notices of price increases.

“The sole purpose of these adjustments is to keep pace with rising inflation,” SpaceX said in the message to customers, which also mentioned “excessive levels of inflation.” The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported March 10 that inflation over the previous 12 months was running at 7.9% before seasonal adjustments, the highest rate in four decades.

Starlink is not the only service where SpaceX has recently increased prices. SpaceX’s smallsat rideshare program is now charging $1.1 million to place up to 200 kilograms into sun-synchronous orbits, with additional mass costing $5,500 per kilogram. The company has previously charged $1 million for up to 200 kilograms and $5,000 per kilogram for additional mass. The new prices represent a 10% increase. “Pricing adjusted in March 2022 to account for excessive levels of inflation,” the company stated on its website.

SpaceX has also hiked prices for dedicated Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches. A price sheet on the company website now lists a price of $67 million for a Falcon 9 and $97 million for a Falcon Heavy. A version of that document from earlier this year listed prices of $62 million for the Falcon 9 and $90 million for the Falcon Heavy. The new prices reflect increases of about 8%.

“Pricing adjustments made in March 2022 to account for excessive levels of inflation,” the company states on the price sheet. “Missions purchased in 2022 but flown beyond 2023 may be subject to additional adjustments due to inflation.”

SpaceX executives speaking at the Satellite 2022 conference here did not bring up cost increases of either Starlink or launch services. An increase in launch costs in particular is unlikely to have a significant effect on demand for Falcon launches given the constrained supply of competing launch vehicles currently.

“We’ve been both lucky and successful rolling out a capability that is near-global,” Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, said of Starlink during a panel at the conference March 22.

“At least before Starlink there were many very unhappy customers of broadband in the United States, so we’re learning how to make them happy,” she added. “We are learning as we go, and we are getting new customers daily.”

SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk, who also runs automaker Tesla, did complain about the effects of inflation on both companies recently. “Tesla & SpaceX are seeing significant recent inflation pressure in raw materials & logistics,” he tweeted March 13.