SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space-tourism firm, maybe on the brink of bankruptcy. Musk revealed the alarming scenario that his high-flying space-tourism company is at a “real risk of bankruptcy” in an email written to SpaceX staff around Thanksgiving.
According to the letter, the production of the raptor engine is draining the company, and as a result, SpaceX will need to fly one shuttle every couple of weeks to keep the business up and running in the future.
“Unfortunately, the Raptor production crisis is much worse than it had seemed a few weeks ago,” Musk wrote. “As we have dug into the issues following the exiting of prior senior management, they have unfortunately turned out to be far more severe than was reported. There is no way to sugarcoat this. We face a genuine risk of bankruptcy if we cannot achieve a Starship flight rate of at least once every two weeks next year.”
The Raptor engine is being made in partnership with NASA for the Lunar Artemis project. The Raptor engine is critical to the Starship prototype’s ability to jump to orbit, even though it has taken many test flights. However, if Musk and his organization pursue orbital missions, the rockets will require up to 39 Raptor engines apiece.
While the mail did put the employees under a lot of stress, Musk will not enjoy Christmas. So instead, he requested the staff to stay back over the holidays to work on the project, assuring that he, too, would be on the Raptor line.
“Unless you have critical family matters or cannot physically return to Hawthorne, we will need all hands on deck to recover from what is, quite frankly, a disaster. I was going to take this weekend off, as my first weekend off in a long time, but instead, I will be on the Raptor line all night and through the weekend,” Musk wrote in the email.
Furthermore, the email clarified the departure of former VP of Propulsion Will Heltsley, who left the firm this month. Heltsley was fired from the project just before he left.
Aside from the Starship project, the email also revealed the Starlink internet project. Musk stated that while the V1 satellites have been launched, they do not have lasers. The lasers will be installed on V2 satellites; however, they will not be delivered by the current Falcon space shuttle. Instead, Musk has asked the FCC for permission to launch the second-generation Starlink satellites aboard Starship rockets. As a result, he intends to increase Raptor engine output to address the issue.
“The consequences for SpaceX if we can not get enough reliable Raptors made is that we then can’t fly Starship, which means we can’t fly Starlink Satellite V2,” added Musk in his email, referring to the necessity for greater lift capacity and volume to place the new Starlink satellite version into orbit.
“Satellite V1, by itself, is financially weak, while V3 is strong.” Musk also added that the ramp-up in Starlink internet service users could reach several million new units per year. However, this is a costly aspiration, “assuming that satellite V2 will be in orbit to handle the bandwidth demand. These terminals will be useless otherwise.”
Musk’s enterprises have a history of doing this. Tesla was likewise up against the wall with the Model 3 production. It remains to be seen if SpaceX can revive in the same spectacular fashion as the electric vehicle sector.