Elon Mus tells SpaceX employees about the dire crisis of SpaceX’s development of Raptor rocket engines leading to bankruptcy. The email was sent to employees after Thanksgiving, a copy was obtained by CNBC. States, “The Raptor production crisis is much worse than it seemed a few weeks ago.”
Raptor engines are the most powerful aspect of the spaceship SpaceX is developing. They have been making hundreds of such huge raptors just for testing purposes. Musk stated that the company faces a genuine risk of bankruptcy if it cannot reach the flight rate of at least once every two weeks by 2022.
It is said that Musk is angry with how things are progressing in SpaceX. Especially in reference to the development of Raptor engines being made for Starship. Being a next-generation rocket, Starship is a massive spaceship that can have both cargo and hundreds of people on board. The Spaceship is known to be built to be able to launch for SpaceX’s Mars mission. In the past Musk talked about colonizing Mars with Starship, being able to run on its own resources for longer times. Currently, SpaceX is testing the prototypes in the facility in South Texas. After multiple attempts recently there have been some successful test flights. Each rocket prototype needs around 39 raptor engines, which would mean the company has to boost raptor engine production.
Musk’s email gives more context referring to the departure of former Vice President of Propulsion Will Heltsley. Ever since Heltsley’s resignation things have been going down as the company’s leadership is digging into the program’s problems. Only then the circumstances are being discovered to be more severe.
Prior to this Musk planned to take a long Thanksgiving holiday off. However, after the discovery of Raptor’s situation he has been working on the issue personally through Friday night and into the weekend. He stated in the email, “We need all hands on deck to recover from what is, quite frankly, a disaster.”
It is not new to know that the difficult part of building the massive Starship is the production of its parts. The company has constantly worked on launches alongside the development of Starship, especially this year as they had back-to-back launches frequently. On November 17th, Musk stated that SpaceX will hopefully launch the Starship orbital launch by January or February. However, the current discovery was not taken into account during that time. SpaceX has ambitious plans while developing Starship, which is something that is not achieved by any other space company yet.