SpaceX to Layoff 10 Percent of Workers

SpaceX to Layoff 10 Percent of Workers

SpaceX revealed that it plans to layoff 10 percent of its workforce.  The January 11 announcement came just hours after the company’s first launch of the year — 10 Iridium NEXT satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Force Base, CA.

In a statement, the company said:

“To continue delivering for our customers and to succeed in developing interplanetary spacecraft and a global space-based Internet, SpaceX must become a leaner company. Either of these developments, even when attempted separately, have bankrupted other organizations.  This means we must part ways with some talented and hardworking members of our team. We are grateful for everything they have accomplished and their commitment to SpaceX’s mission. This action is taken only due to the extraordinarily difficult challenges ahead and would not otherwise be necessary.” — SpaceX Statement

The statement did not disclose the amount of layoffs, but a source said on background that it was 10 percent. The company’s website says it has “6000+” employees, but not an exact number.  Ten percent would mean at least 600 people will be laid off.

The driving force is to meet customer launch needs while also advancing the goals of global broadband connectivity with the Starlink communications satellites under development, and human spaceflight.  Company founder and CEO Elon Musk is intent on making humanity a multi-planet species.

In recent days Musk and others have been tweeting photos of a development version of SpaceX’s new Starship, formerly Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), which is getting ready for short, suborbital “hopping” tests at the company’s Boca Chica launch site near Brownsville, Texas.

A Japanese billionaire, Yusaku Maezawa, has purchased the first Starship flight around the Moon, which Musk plans for 2023.  Maezawa said he will invite six to eight artists to join him, and perhaps Musk himself, on the one-week trip.  Eventually, Musk plans to use Starship to send people to Mars.

In addition to those tests and commercial launches of the Falcon 9 rocket, this year the company is getting ready for test launches of its Crew Dragon/Falcon 9 commercial crew system to the International Space Station under contract to NASA, two flights of its Falcon Heavy rocket, and deploying the first set of Starlink satellites.  SpaceX has approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch a system of almost 12,000 Starlink satellites to provide global broadband Internet service from space.  FCC approved the first 4,425 satellites in March 2018 and an additional 7, 518 in November 2018.  The project is expected to cost $10 billion to develop.  (FCC is in charge of assigning the use of specific radio frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum to non-government entities.)

SpaceX successfully completed its first launch of the year this morning, January 11, placing 10 Iridium NEXT satellites into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base.  The launch used a “flight proven” first stage that returned to a landing on the drone ship Just Read the Instructions.

Note: This article has been updated.

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