It will probably have to spend a lot more than that as it seeks a slice the lucrative business of launching national security satellites for the Pentagon. United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of aerospace behemoths Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing, is the Pentagon's sole launch provider for such missions.
In October, the U.S. government took the first steps toward opening up that business to competition.
There is no guarantee that SpaceX will win those Air Force contracts. Still, it's in the process of building a massive new rocket, called Falcon Heavy, capable of lifting the bulky satellites. And it's building a $30-million launch pad for the rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Situated along the Pacific Ocean, Vandenberg has primarily been used for launching spy satellites since the beginning of the Cold War because its location is considered ideal for putting satellites into a north-south orbit.
"We're looking forward to serving the needs of the Defense Department in terms of launching satellites," Musk said. "Hopefully the third success of Falcon 9 in a row will give them the confidence they need to open up the defense contract to competition."
Still, SpaceX is not entirely reliant on the U.S. government for business. It has dozens of commercial contracts worth more than $4 billion to launch satellites aboard its rockets for various countries and telecommunications companies.
Daniel Longfield, an analyst with the research firm Frost & Sullivan, said that isn't what makes SpaceX innovative.
"If SpaceX just launched telecommunications satellites, there isn't much that separates them from any other launch provider," he said. "They would be just as boring as the rest of them. It's the company's aspirations to more difficult tasks that make them exciting."