SpaceX founder Elon Musk told employees the space company faces a “genuine risk of bankruptcy” if its biggest reusable rocket Starship cannot meet a flight rate of at least once every two weeks next year, Space Explored reported on Tuesday, citing an internal email.
An upset Musk told employees in a company-wide email that the Raptor engine production crisis is much worse than it had seemed a few weeks ago.
The Raptor engines power SpaceX’s Starship rocket and Super Heavy boosters.
“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,” Musk reportedly wrote in the email which was sent after the Thanksgiving holiday.
“There is no way to sugarcoat this.”
Musk said he had called off his first weekend off in a long time due to the crisis.
The development comes just days after a top-level shakeup, with two vice presidents leaving the space company. Will Heltsley, a SpaceX veteran, was recently taken off the Raptor engine development due to a lack of progress.
SpaceX plans to fly its fully reusable, biggest rocket Starship to orbit in January and eventually aims for Starship to replace its existing rockets — Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and Dragon 2 — and be able to carry much more mass into orbit.
SpaceX’s first attempt to launch the Starship in orbit would be followed by many more such flights throughout the year.
Tesla CEO Musk dreams of colonizing Mars and has in the past said he remains “highly confident” that SpaceX would land humans on Mars by 2026.
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