Musk said SpaceX expects to invest between $5-$10bn in Starlink before it becomes cash flow positive, and overall he estimated the costs at between $20bn and $30bn. “It’s a lot, basically,” he said.

Musk did not comment on Starlink’s revenue potential, but in the past has predicted that it could attain annual revenues of $30bn by 2025.

Musk acknowledged that all earlier attempts to provide constellation-based broadband services, going back to the 1990s, have failed. He joked that, a few years ago, his goal was simply to avoid bankruptcy

The cost of a Starlink “terminal”, or satellite dish, is $499, plus a monthly subscription cost of $99. Musk said the hardware currently costs about twice what it is charging customers.

The billionaire entrepreneur also said Starlink has signed two big telecoms partnerships, but he declined to name them.

In December, the Starlink project was awarded almost $900m in US federal subsidies to support rural broadband connections. The award accounted for about one-tenth of a $9.2bn auction held by the Federal Communications Commission and will be distributed monthly over a decade.

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