Elon Musk Anticipates Third IPO in Three Years With SpaceX

Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Space Exploration Technologies Corp., wants the private rocket-launch business to have an initial public offering in 2013, the entrepreneur’s third such sale in about three years.

“There’s a good chance that SpaceX goes public next year,” Musk, 40, said yesterday in an interview at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California, without elaborating.

Tesla Motors Inc., Musk’s electric-car company, sold shares for the first time in 2010. SolarCity Corp., a developer of rooftop solar-power systems of which Musk is chairman, is also preparing to file for an IPO this year, three people with knowledge of the matter have said.

SpaceX has contracts to launch satellites and is scheduled to begin shipping cargo to the International Space Station in April. Musk started the company in 2002 with money from that year’s IPO of PayPal Inc., which he co-founded, and the subsequent sale of his stake in the Internet-payment company when it was acquired by EBay Inc.

“SpaceX, in terms of launches awarded, is the world leader in space launch,” Musk said. “We’re beating the Russians, the Chinese, the Europeans, everyone.”

Clayton Mowry, president of Arianespace Inc., the U.S. affiliate of Europe’s Arianespace satellite and rocket launch company, said in an e-mail his company has more than three years of orders for launches with a total value of 4.6 billion euros ($6.07 billion).

“Despite claims by Elon Musk, Arianespace is far and away the leading commercial launch supplier in the world,” he said.

Kirstin Grantham, a spokeswoman for SpaceX, wasn’t immediately able to comment.

Billionaire Bound

Tesla, known for its all-electric Roadster sports car, is to begin delivering rechargeable Model S sedans to customers starting in about mid-2012 and late yesterday unveiled its Model X, a battery-powered sport-utility vehicle. Tesla’s 2010 IPO was the first for a U.S. automaker in more than 50 years.

Tesla, which counts Daimler AG, Toyota Motor Corp. and Panasonic Corp. as investors, fell 4.5 percent to $31.10 at the close in New York, as broader markets declined. The stock has risen 8.9 percent this year.

“There’s nothing this guy can’t do,” said film director Jon Favreau, who gave Musk a cameo role in “Iron Man 2,” at the unveiling of the Tesla Model X in Hawthorne. Favreau said he’s on the waiting list for a Model S sedan.

SolarCity Filing

SolarCity, based in San Mateo, California, may file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as early as next month, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The IPO may value the company at more than $1.5 billion, the person said.

The offerings could catapult Musk into the ranks of the world’s billionaires. He owns a 26 percent stake in Tesla valued at more than $650 million, after adjusting for collateralized shares. His 25 percent of SolarCity would be valued at $375 million at the valuation the company is seeking.

Musk owns more than 70 million shares of closely held rocket maker SpaceX.

Recent transactions in the private market have pegged his stake in SpaceX at about $875 million.

Separately, Musk unveiled a Tesla battery-powered sport-utility vehicle the company plans to deliver next year on the heels of its Model S sedan. The SUV has so-called gull-wing doors -- described by Musk as “falcon wings” -- that swing open upward, reminiscent of auto designer John DeLorean’s namesake DeLorean DMC-12 sports car from the early 1980s, featured in the “Back to the Future” movies.

Model X

The Model X, touted by Tesla as quicker than Porsche AG’s 911 sports car and roomier than Audi AG’s Q7 SUV, will be built in 2013 at the company’s Fremont, California, plant that starts making the Model S this year. Deliveries will begin late next year, and increase throughout 2014, Musk said in an interview.

“The sensible thing to do is to extend the platform of the Model S into other applications, and the next application logically is the SUV/minivan arena,” Musk said yesterday. “For relatively little capital investment, maybe between a third and half of what we spent on Model S, we can bring the Model X to market.”

Tesla, based in Palo Alto, California, seeks to become a dominant seller of premium electric vehicles and has said it expects Model S sales to help the company become profitable by as early as next year.

The company began taking reservations for Model X, a seven-passenger crossover that shares a platform and battery system with Model S. California Governor Jerry Brown attended the debut of the Model X at Tesla’s design studio in Hawthorne, next to SpaceX headquarters.

“There’s a rocket ship next door, and you know as ‘Governor Moonbeam’ I like rocket ships,” Brown said, referring to his nickname from the late 1970s when he first served as governor.

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