CEO Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskMicrosoft CEO Nadella sells off nearly 0 million in shares of the company The dangers of anarchy in space Health risks of space tourism: Is it responsible to send humans to Mars? MORE warned SpaceX employees that if they don’t increase production of Raptor engines for his next-generation Starship rocket, the aerospace company faces a “genuine risk of bankruptcy.”
In an internal email first obtained by SpaceExplored, Musk said SpaceX faces bankruptcy if the company can’t “achieve a Starship flight rate of at least once every two weeks next year.”
“Unfortunately, the Raptor production crisis is much worse than it seemed a few weeks ago. As we have dug into the issues following exiting prior senior management, they have unfortunately turned out to be far more severe than was reported. There is no way to sugarcoat this,” Musk wrote in the email, which was sent the day after Thanksgiving. “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.”
The news comes just over a week after two senior level employees at SpaceX, including one who was taken off the development of the Raptor engine, resigned from the company, CNBC reported.
SpaceX’s Starship, which is being developed in Boca Chica, Texas, is the largest rocket in the world and is meant to be entirely reusable for multiple launches. Musk told the National Academy of Sciences recently that he would launch an initial test with the rocket and its booster, the Super Heavy, in January or February of next year.
Musk does not expect Starship to survive its first test flight early next year, but he is confident that SpaceX will succeed sometime in 2022.
Starship is then intended to take astronauts to the moon in 2023 as part of a nearly $3 billion contract between NASA and SpaceX.
Musk has shared plans to revolutionize space travel with Starship and similarly designed rockets. The rocket will one day take humans beyond the moon to other planets, the CEO has said, and will launch his next generation of Starlink satellites.
But development of the crucial Raptor engines, which are powered through the combustion of methane and oxygen, is lagging, according to SpaceExplored, and Musk’s emails suggest that the delay could have larger implications for his plans for Starship and SpaceX as a whole.