Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX is looking to borrow $500 million (R7.2 billion) in the leveraged loan market through Goldman Sachs. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)

INTERNATIONAL - Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX is looking to borrow $500 million (R7.2 billion) in the leveraged loan market through Goldman Sachs, which is leading talks with potential investors this week, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.

The news comes weeks after SpaceX picked Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa as its first private passenger on a voyage around the moon.

SpaceX has upended the space industry with its relatively low-cost reusable Falcon 9 rockets.

It has completed more than 50 successful Falcon launches and snagged billions of dollars’ worth of contracts, including deals with NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Neither SpaceX nor Goldman Sachs immediately responded to Reuters’ requests for comment.

Commercial satellite

In early October, Elon Musk’s rocket company launched a commercial satellite for Argentina, marking SpaceX’s 17th mission of 2018 in the type of steady success that so far has eluded his electric car maker Tesla. 

The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base on California’s central coast about 7:21 p.m. local time. About 8 minutes after liftoff, the rocket’s first stage returned and landed at Vandenberg in a first for a California-based SpaceX launch. 

The second stage deployed SAOCOM 1A, an Argentine Earth-imaging satellite, roughly 12 minutes after the launch.

Having a rocket’s first stage return safely to Earth is part Space Exploration Technologies strategy to reduce launch costs and win market share. SpaceX already has recovered rocket boosters several times, both on land in Florida and on drone ships at sea.

Musk is the chief executive, chairperson and largest shareholder of both SpaceX and Tesla, two companies that are pushing frontiers of technology while surrounded by different degrees of drama.

Closely held SpaceX’s valuation has climbed to about $28 billion (R417bn) as it racks up successful launches, making it the third-most valuable venture-backed startup in the US after Uber Technologies and Airbnb SpaceX completed a record 18 missions in 2017 and is on track to exceed that number this year.

Publicly traded Tesla’s value, meanwhile, has seesawed as Musk made bold claims about taking it private, only to draw a lawsuit from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

REUTERS