SpaceX, the new rocket company that rocked the launch industry with low-cost reusable boosters and ambitious long-range plans to transport people to Mars and beyond, plans to reduce the workforce by about 10 %, reported company sources Friday.
The revelation came a few hours after the Californian missile builder10 Iridium communications satellites in orbit over a Falcon 9 rocket at the Vandenberg Air Base in California in the early 18s SpaceX scheduled flights this year
"To continue to provide our customers and to be able to develop interplanetary spacecraft and a global space network, SpaceX must become a leaner company", said the company in a statement issued on Friday. "One of these developments, even if attempted separately, has put other organizations into bankruptcy.
" This means that we have to separate ourselves from some talented and hard-working members of our team. We are grateful for everything they have done and for their commitment to the SpaceX mission. This action is taken only because of the extraordinarily difficult challenges that await us and it would not be otherwise necessary. "
A company official said SpaceX remains" financially strong "and waits for an intense year in space, including the first flights of Crew Dragon ferry ships NASA will use to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station. [1
In addition, two launches of the powerful Falcon Heavy three-core missile are planned, together the implementation of the company's first Starlink satellites, the first of over 7,000 planned as part of a global space broadband constellation.
The company is also continuing with the development of a new space launch system known as Starship, a fully reusable launch system. SpaceX officials say they will be the most powerful in the world, capable of transporting humans to Mars and other destinations in deep space.
But paying those ambitious plans will be a challenge. The Wall Street Journal reported in mid-November that SpaceX, founded by the charismatic internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, had raised $ 250 million from its first sale of high-yield loans.
Some investors, according to the newspaper, "have expressed doubts on the record of the company to burn money and its experience with high profile incidents, which previously led to declines in revenue."
"Other concerns include the company's large investment plans and its connection with Mr. Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, whose volatile behavior led to turmoil at the electric car manufacturer Tesla Inc., of which it is also CEO. "
NASA announced on November 24 that it was implementing a security reviewof both SpaceX and Boeing, which is building its space ship spacecraft. The Washington Post reported that the review had been ordered, in part, because of concerns raised in the wake of a podcast in which Musk apparently smoked marijuana.
The Journal, citing industry sources, said that SpaceX occupies about $ 2.5 billion a year. Profit margins "are limited in part by a payroll of about 7,000 employees, the cost of running three stepping stones (two in Florida and one in California) and spending on the development of a fourth site," he said. newspaper. The company's website says that the workforce number "6,000 +."
SpaceX has rocked the global launch industry, subtracting the competition with the Falcon 9 rockets for only $ 60 million, tens of millions less than other rockets in its class and refining technology to recover the boosters from before phase so they can be renewed and flown back.
SpaceX has launched 67 Falcon 9 rockets since 2010 and a Falcon Heavy, experiencing a flight failure in June 2015 and an in-pad explosion later this year, both related to problems with the helium system used to pressurize the liquid oxygen propellant tank of the second stage of the rocket.
Since the failure on the pad, SpaceX successfully launched 40 missiles in a row, including Friday's flight, and recovered 33 top-flight boosters, a venture that no other rocket company has ever attempted.
The Pentagon has approved Falcon 9 for the launch of high-priority national security payloads and NASA relies on the company to deliver supplies to the International Space Station aboard Dragon merchant ships.
SpaceX holds contracts worth $ 3.04 billion for 20 space station refueling flights for the coming year, according to the Office of Government Responsibility. The company holds another NASA contract for an unspecified amount for at least another six flights until 2024.
SpaceX also holds a $ 2.6 billion NASA contract to build and launch the Crew Dragon capsule.