Raptors May Be Chasing SpaceX Into Bankruptcy, Says Musk

In the span of just a single decade, two of Elon Musk’s companies changed the world as we know it. On the automobile front, Tesla was left to solve engineering and adoption challenges alone, and it did, opening the doors for all others to reap the benefits. When it comes to space exploration, SpaceX re-opened the skies for our species, allowing us to dream once more of solar system domination. And both entities will continue to reshape the world in the years to come. Or will they?
SpaceX Starship 6 photos
Photo: SpaceX
First firing of a Raptor vacuum engineFirst firing of a Raptor vacuum engineFirst firing of a Raptor vacuum engineFirst firing of a Raptor vacuum engineFirst firing of a Raptor vacuum engine
As far as SpaceX is concerned, things seemed pretty clear. The company is a favorite NASA partner in several projects (so much so, that it even prompted accusations from the competition), and it can repeatedly fly its rockets for other partners, including the military, thus reducing costs associated with disposable hardware. This gives people the impression money is flowing into the company’s pockets.

But that’s probably not the case. That is, sure, money flows in, but it also flows out, as SpaceX is researching new technology that should allow human spaceflight to the Moon and Mars.

The focus of the company’s R&D efforts is presently the Starship and the many components that make it up. A few prototypes have been flown and destroyed this year, before SpaceX managed to get the landing right, and at the moment the company is eyeing the first orbital flight of such a rocket (no sooner than February 2022, probably).

The pace at which development is going seems to be causing quite a lot of problems for SpaceX, which according to Musk should be flying the Starship “once every two weeks” (presumably for commercial partners) next year. If that does not happen, SpaceX is facing bankruptcy.

Yes, bankruptcy. This is the exact word Musk used in an email sent to company employees on Thanksgiving weekend and made public this week by several media outlets, including CNBC.

The problems SpaceX may be experiencing have to do with the problems in development for the Raptor engines. Musk says the crisis is much worse than believed weeks ago, and “as we have dug into the issues following exiting prior senior management, they have unfortunately turned out to be far more severe than was reported.”

Musk decided to share this with his workforce as he needed people to come in to work during the holiday. “We need all hands on deck to recover from what is, quite frankly, a disaster,” he allegedly said.

No additional info on the magnitude of the Raptor issues has been provided at this time.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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