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Starship Engine Progress Can Bankrupt SpaceX, Musk Warns



SpaceX Concept Spacecraft in orbit of the Earth | Slow Progress of Starship Engine Can Bankrupt SpaceX | featured

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told employees that the slow development of the Starship engine can bankrupt SpaceX soon.

Upset over the lack of progress in the Raptor engine development, Musk said that the company faces a genuine risk of insolvency. 

RELATED: SpaceX Launches All-Civilian Crew of 4 Into Space

Slow Rocket Production Can Bankrupt SpaceX

SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corp.) headquarters-Bankrupt SpaceX

In a company email, the SpaceX CEO described the dire situation facing the space company. “The Raptor production crisis is much worse than it seemed a few weeks ago.

We face the genuine risk of bankruptcy if we cannot achieve a Starship flight rate of at least once every two weeks next year,” Musk wrote.

Starship is SpaceX’s next-generation rocket designed to carry cargo and people on lunar and Martian missions. SpaceX is currently testing prototypes at its South Texas facility, flying a few test flights.

In order to graduate to orbital launches, Starship will need around 39 Raptor engines per prototype. This will entail a sharp rise in production for the engines

SpaceX VP of Propulsion Quit Last Month

The departure of SpaceX’s vice president for propulsion Will Heltsley last month also added to the engine production woes. 

Before he left, SpaceX removed Heltsley from the Raptor engine program. Musk noted in his email that management is looking into the problems since then. Musk said that the problems seemed “far more severe” than he thought.  

As a result, Musk waived off this plan to spend a long Thanksgiving weekend off. Instead, the CEO said he will personally work on the engine production line throughout the weekend.

Fearing a bankrupt SpaceX, Musk called for urgency to address the problem. “We need all hands on deck to recover from what is, quite frankly, a disaster,” Musk wrote.

The billionaire founder repeatedly said that production is the most difficult part of SpaceX’s Starship production.

In fact, the company set up multiple prototypes for testing in its Boca Chica, Texas facility. Once production gets resolved, the next target would be launching Starship into orbit. 

Hopeful For 2022 Launch If Production Doesn’t Bankrupt SpaceX

Earlier, Musk projects Starship’s first orbital launch to launch in January or February next year. This date is pending regulatory approval by the Federal Aviation Authority.

The company hopes to introduce a novel concept. SpaceX wants its rocket and boosters reusable. This means the company expects to recover components after a launch and use them for future flights.

In fact, SpaceX’s smaller Falcon 9 rockets are partially reusable. Only the rooster and not the upper stages are reusable. 

Musk said they’re still unsure if Starship will successfully reach orbit on its first attempt early next year. However, he said he’s confident the rocket will reach space by next year.

At this time, Starship funding is 90% internal. Any international collaboration or outside funding remains unutilized. 

Billions In Funding

SpaceX already raised billions in funding over the past several years. The money went to both the Starship projects and to its satellite internet project Starlink.

SpaceX is currently holding a value of $100 billion. So far, SpaceX sent about 1,700 Starlink satellites to orbit. However, Musk noted that the satellite’s first version remains “financially weak.” 

Watch the Tesla Daily video reporting that Elon Musk notes bankruptcy risk to SpaceX employees:

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