Sign up to receive 5 free days of our daily summary for tech news.

Read this article for free.

Already a subscriber? Log in here

Space Exploration Technologies, Elon Musk’s rocket company, has accomplished a lot since it was one failed launch away from going out of business, in 2008.

The company, which Mr. Musk hopes will be his vehicle for starting a human colony on Mars, charges far less than any other competitor to send satellite and other equipment to space. Its manifest lists more than 40 planned launches in the next few years for clients like Nasa, the U.S. Air Force and satellite-services firms from Israel to Japan, representing billions of dollars in potential revenue. And it has plenty of money: Google and Fidelity Investments invested $1 billion in SpaceX at a roughly $12 billion valuation earlier this year.

But not all is well. The company had 19 successful commercial launches over the past five years before suffering a failure in June, and it won’t have another launch until September at the earliest. In the meantime, investors and industry veterans say there are several more fundamental and interrelated issues that Mr. Musk needs to confront before making his voyage to Mars. (This article is the fourth in a series by The Information on the big strategic questions facing the most valuable private technology companies.)

What Is The Information?

Notebook b5103017ee163370a1667c9ce59ab0ef023875a17888105d26c185cadf31bb69

Daily news analysis

Every weeknight, we'll send you our reporters’ views on the day’s top tech news—distilled into one email.

Notes bb3aa5069205d702dda37fc71dc6f1c59df2310c4379304e9f1199f052af4884

Exclusive Articles

We broke it first. Receive original reporting, stories, and exclusives you won't read anywhere else from the largest newsroom in tech.

Conference calls c9e664e8b96ee347d3e92b8309938f268422b9db98cfabca5c826fbb75054b23

Conference calls

Go deep into areas like crypto and VC diversity—or get real-time analysis of breaking news—via conference calls with our reporters and other experts.

Events 499acedd16cffc41445edd76bfd302b2836c2a27419890f17130a6b10e2aa3df

Special Events

For no extra fee, subscribers get access to more than a dozen events yearly, from intimate dinners to larger gatherings with marquee speakers.

Access the best reporting on the tech industry read by tens of thousands of global executives.

Become a contributor

Share your views and find other subscribers by completing your profile. You’ll be listed in our contributor directory.

Org Charts

Access the only collection of tech company org charts. Our expanding database includes companies like Amazon, Snap, and Uber.

Slack community

Discuss topics and current events with our subscriber-only Slack group and share news about your company with other subscribers.

Share with your team

Subscribers can unlock any article and share it with friends and co-workers through a special share link.

Stay up to date on Silicon Valley

Sign up for Jessica Lessin’s (The Information’s CEO & Founder) free Saturday newsletter and also receive a complimentary week of our daily afternoon tech commentary email.

Already a subscriber? Log in here

Recent Articles

Google Facebook

Why Product Doesn’t Win

By Jessica E. Lessin

Autonomous Vehicles

Tesla Turnover Revamps Executive Team

By Amir Efrati

Asia Google E-commerce

A Google Diaspora Shapes China’s Tech Scene

By Shai Oster

Cybersecurity Facebook

Facebook on Hunt for Big Cybersecurity Acquisition

By Reed Albergotti and Sarah Kuranda