The lack of development on the business’s Raptor engines puts the company at a “genuine risk of bankruptcy,” according to a leaked company-wide email from Musk acquired by Space Explored and later corroborated by CNBC.
The situation is so serious, Musk wrote in the email, that SpaceX will need to launch a Starship once every two weeks in the coming year to avoid financial ruin.
“Unfortunately, the Raptor production crisis is much worse than it had seemed a few weeks ago,” Musk wrote in an email sent during the Thanksgiving holiday. “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.”
The senior management he’s talking to is very definitely Will Heltsley, SpaceX’s former VP of propulsion, who left the firm in November due to the Raptor’s lack of progress.
Musk continued to express his displeasure in the email, while also emphasizing the gravity of the situation. Despite the fact that it was a holiday weekend, he went so far as to demand that his employees return to work.
“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,” said the Tesla Chief.
Despite his plans to take the weekend off, Musk said he would be on the Raptor line all night and over the weekend.
This company’s reliance on these engines cannot be understated. They’ll play a big part in SpaceX’s plans for the coming year, including fueling the Starship rocket and its Super Heavy boosters, which will be used to get to the Moon.
The Starship rockets will be essential in launching the next generation of Starlink satellites into orbit, which will be critical to SpaceX’s financial success. According to Musk, if the business can’t get the Raptor production going, it won’t be able to “fly Starlink Satellite V2.”
Indeed, in a tweet about the engine’s development on November 16, Musk hinted at the strain, saying that a “complete design overhaul is necessary for the engine that can actually make life multiplanetary.”
The CEO ended his holiday letter to his employees on a positive note, emphasizing that the company’s financial future was on the line.
The communication comes as a shock, given that SpaceX and Musk are known for portraying the company as a runaway success.