- Crisis of Starship Raptor engine production
- Elon Musk, SpaceX’s CEO, sent an email to his employees “genuine risk of bankruptcy.”
- SpaceX expects to launch Starship at least once every two weeks next year to keep the company afloat.
- SpaceX’s next-generation rocket will surely be a game-changer in 2022.
Elon Musk, SpaceX’s CEO, sent an email to his employees on Black Friday, asking that they repair SpaceX’s Raptor engines and warn that the company may face bankruptcy unless production increases to support high flight rates. Starship rocket next year.
If a severe global recession were to dry up capital availability / liquidity while SpaceX was losing billions on Starlink & Starship, then bankruptcy, while still unlikely, is not impossible.
GM & Chrysler went BK last recession.
“Only the paranoid survive.” – Grove
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 30, 2021
According to Musk’s November 17th presentation to the National Academies of Sciences, SpaceX expects to launch Starship’s first orbital mission in January or February 2022. According to Musk’s email, SpaceX expects to launch Starship at least once every two weeks next year to keep the company afloat. Additionally, the Raptor engine development doesn’t seem to be proceeding smoothly.
On November 30, a CNBC and The Verge reporter shared the entire email linked below.
— Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) November 30, 2021
Musk planned to take a break this Thanksgiving weekend, but these issues changed that. Musk is well-known for his work ethic and refusal to take holidays (and sleeping on the factory floor).
There is a high probability that the ‘senior management that left is Will Heltsley, the former SpaceX vice president of propulsion. Raptor production was ineffective due to a lack of progress, according to CNBC. In addition, former SpaceX vice president of missions and launch operations Lee Rosen and senior director of missions and launch operations Rick Lim have also left. With over six years of experience at the company, Jacob Mackenzie has been overseeing the production of the Raptor engine.
The Starship development will affect NASA’s timeline for landing astronauts on the moon by 2025 and colonizing Mars within our lifetimes. A successful deployment of the spacecraft will allow the company to deploy the 20,000-satellite Starlink constellation, which will provide reliable Internet access to rural and remote communities around the world. A little over 1800 satellites have been launched so far by Falcon 9. As opposed to Falcon 9, which can only launch 60 internet-beaming satellites in its payload fairing, Starship will be capable of launching 400 internet-beaming satellites into orbit in a single mission. We can have no Starship, and without Starship, we cannot fly Starlink Satellite V2 (Falcon cannot achieve the required orbital mass for satellite V2) if we cannot produce enough reliable Raptors. “Satellite V1 alone does not have the financial strength of V2, but Starlink V2 does,” Musk said about the next-generation satellites.
In order for SpaceX to succeed, the Starship must be built. Even though SpaceX’s current rocket, the Falcon 9, has been wildly successful, moving to a fully reusable rocket will make it possible for the company to launch more payloads at a lower cost if it is up to the task.
Tests of the Starship take place in the open, in front of onlookers who can see the company’s success and failure. Early prototypes exploded, drawing enormous attention before SN15 flew successfully. However, the company still has a long way before performing an orbital test, let alone putting together a production schedule for Starship.
You should not take Elon’s bankruptcy statement at face value. That Musk is giving this importance to Starship rapidly progressing in the coming months is a good indication of what lies ahead in the coming months.
SpaceX’s next-generation rocket will surely be a game-changer in 2022. SpaceX had previously achieved major milestones when its fate depended on it, starting with the original Falcon 1 rocket launch.
SpaceX won’t go under as the email claims, even if the Starship doesn’t fly every 14 days by the end of next year. The company’s ambitious path must be maintained without scaling back operations that haven’t yet become profitable. Elon Musk recognizes this and is sharing the pressure.
As a company, SpaceX has never before been under so much pressure after the first time they sent astronauts to the space station. The CEO told employees that Starship was now SpaceX’s top priority and asked anyone in Texas who was available to work on it directly … and look at how far it has progressed since then.