Published: Mon, January 14, 2019
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Elon Musk Unveils SpaceX Starship Test Vehicle

Elon Musk Unveils SpaceX Starship Test Vehicle

"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", the company said in a statement Friday. However, the launch and satellite initiatives the company is pursuing will each require several billion dollars to complete. The company said it will "part ways" with some of its manpower, citing "extraordinarily hard challenges ahead". SpaceX has since confirmed the news, saying in a statement that it must get "leaner" in order to achieve its goals - ones that, it said, "have bankrupted other organizations".

The layoffs were announced to workers in an email from President Gwynne Shotwell, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Even with SpaceX's ramp-up of satellite launches - 21 in 2018, up from 18 the year before - it has occasionally cut its workforce.

SpaceX makes its money through private contract launches and US government contract launches for NASA and national security missions. Musk reportedly fired at least seven people last summer over disagreements about the performance speed of the company's Starlink satellite programme; all were reported to have been senior management staffers. Its first test flights - suborbital "hops" - could come in March or April. The project is expected to cost the company between $2 billion and $10 billion.

The Starship is SpaceX's new class of super-heavy launch vehicle that will replace the company's current crop of products, and will allow for potential missions around the Moon and to Mars.

Musk has estimated it will cost up to United States $10 billion to develop a spaceship that could send humans to Mars.

"Starship test flight rocket just finished assembly at the SpaceX Texas launch site", Musk wrote in a tweet. In addition, SpaceX plans its first deployment of its Starlink satellites this year, which will be the key infrastructure for its space-based Internet project.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the company planned to raise $500 million in funding, pushing its value to $30.5 billion.

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