Musk Says Rocket Engine Issues Threaten to Bankrupt SpaceX

It apparently wasn’t much of a holiday weekend at SpaceX HQ.

On a day when a large share of Americans seek to recover from Thanksgiving excess, Elon Musk effectively ordered his employees back to their posts in Hawthorne, California, in order to address a “disaster” related to the spaceflight company’s new rocketship engine.

According to the email sent to SpaceX employees on Black Friday — obtained by the Verge — the company faces a “genuine risk of bankruptcy” if the matter isn’t resolved.

The problem stems from the Raptor, the methane engine that will power the company’s next-generation Starship spacecraft to the moon and beyond.

Musk wrote that SpaceX officials looked into the engine following the departure of former senior officials, and found that issues with its production were much more severe than previously thought. He didn’t disclose specifics about the problems, but he indicated that they could mean that Raptor production won’t be high enough to launch the company’s larger, next-generation Starlink communications satellites on Starships at the necessary pace — at least one every two weeks in 2022, Musk wrote.

Failing to meet that goal, he claimed, would put the overall company in financial jeopardy.

The world’s richest person wrote that instead of taking his first weekend off in “a long time,” he would be on the Raptor line all Friday night and throughout the weekend — and that the company needed “all hands on deck” unless workers had critical family matters or were unable to physically return to Southern California.

SpaceX did not offer an official comment in the report, but consider this a friendly reminder to take perhaps outlandish claims from Musk in the appropriate context — and that he expressed similarly dire sentiments about Tesla, now the most valuable car company in the world, in 2018.

The company says it hopes to conduct the Starship’s first orbital launch early next year.

More in Video