Elon Musk’s SpaceX will lay off 10 percent of workforce to avoid bankruptcy

California-based SpaceX plans to lay off 10 percent of its more than 6,000 employees in order to reach its goals of developing spacecraft and revolutionizing the internet from Outer Space, it was revealed Friday.

Elon Musk’s company is financially healthy and was recently valued at nearly $30.5billion in December, but the company has several expensive projects in the works. 

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

This week he unveiled a steel-clad test flight prototype of the rocket, which he calls Starship, and the Hawthorne HQ had earlier outlined plans for a trip to Mars in 2022, to be followed by a manned mission to the red planet by 2024. 

Another $10billion project called Starlink would create a constellation of satellites to provide affordable broadband internet service and in order to make it happen in good time, SpaceX is cutting its workforce.

‘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,’ they said in a statement. 

This year, the company plans to begin Starship test flights and to launch the first Starlink satellites.

‘Either of these developments, even when attempted separately, have bankrupted other organizations,’ it added. ‘This means we must part ways with some talented and hardworking members of our team.

‘This action is taken only due to the extraordinarily difficult challenges ahead and would not otherwise be necessary.’

Citing an email sent to employees on Friday from President Gwynne Shotwell, the Los Angeles Times said the company was offering those affected a minimum of eight weeks’ pay and other benefits, including career coaching and resume assistance.

In June, Elon Musk fired at least seven people in the senior management team leading a SpaceX satellite launch project, Reuters reported in November. The firings were related to disagreements over the pace at which the team was developing and testing its Starlink satellites.

SpaceX’s Starlink program is competing with OneWeb and Canada’s Telesat to be the first to market with a new satellite-based internet service.

The management shakeup involved Musk bringing in new managers from SpaceX headquarters in California to replace a number of the managers he fired in Seattle.

The announcement came as SpaceX on Friday launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California carrying 10 communications satellites.

SpaceX makes most of its money from multibillion dollar contracts with NASA and satellite launches.

In November they won authorization from US officials to put nearly 12,000 satellites into orbit in order to boost cheap, wireless internet access by the 2020s.

And last month, SpaceX launched its first U.S. national security space mission, when a SpaceX rocket carrying a U.S. military navigation satellite blasted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral. 

The Wall Street Journal reported in December that the company was raising $500million from investors to help launch its satellite internet service.

Serial entrepreneur Musk has risen to prominence with a series of ambitious ventures, especially Tesla, which has boosted production of its Model 3 electric car and has continued to enjoy strong demand for the vehicle.

Tesla Inc, said in June it was cutting 9 percent of its workforce by removing several thousand jobs across the company in cost reduction measures. 

Other Musk ventures include OpenAI, Neuralink and the Boring Company, which focuses on infrastructure and tunnels.

But Musk has also drawn plenty of criticism over unconventional and at times erratic behavior — after admitting last year that he has struggled with exhaustion.

In an interview broadcast last month, Musk openly mocked the US Securities and Exchange Commission after agreeing to a $20million fine to settle fraud charges the agency had brought over Musk’s quickly aborted effort to take Tesla private.

And in September, Musk raised eyebrows with an appearance on a podcast with comedian Joe Rogan, which saw him sip whiskey and smoke weed while musing at length about artificial intelligence, colonizing space, and the need to give love a chance.

Later that month, he was sued by a British caver who had helped rescue 12 boys trapped in Thailand after Musk called him a ‘pedo guy’ and a ‘child rapist’.

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