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Starship Raptor Engine Crisis Risks Bankruptcy

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is based on a prototype starship rocket at the company’s facility in Bocachica, Texas.

Steve Jurvetson on Flickr

Elon Musk I’m angry at the lack of progress SpaceX has made in developing the Raptor engine that powers the Starship rocket.

He explained the dire situation the day after Thanksgiving in a company-wide email. A copy was obtained by CNBC.

“The production crisis in Raptor is much worse than it was seen a few weeks ago,” Musk wrote.

“If we can’t achieve a starship flight rate more than once every two weeks next year, we face the real risk of bankruptcy,” Musk added later.

Starship is a huge next-generation rocket being developed by SpaceX. To launch cargo and people on a mission to the Moon and Mars. The company is testing prototypes at a facility in southern Texas and has made several short test flights. However, to move to orbit launch, each rocket prototype would require as many as 39 Raptor engines, requiring a sharp increase in engine production.

Mask emails to SpaceX employees provide more context The Importance of Former Vice President Will Helltree’s Resignation Earlier This Month.. Helltree had been removed from Raptor’s development before he left, CNBC reported, Musk noted in his email that the company’s leadership has been digging into program issues ever since, Musk previously. I found a situation that was “much tougher” than I had expected.

SpaceX did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

SpaceX founder and CEO email was first report A subset of the technology blog 9to5Mac by Space Explored.

Raptor engine program is “disaster”

Take a closer look under the base of the 29 Raptor Engine Super Heavy Booster 4.

SpaceX

The Starship prototype test will launch six Raptor rocket engines in Bocachica, Texas on November 12, 2021.

SpaceX

Musk said on November 17 that SpaceX would “start” its first orbital starship flight in January or February, waiting for regulatory approval and technical readiness by the FAA.

SpaceX hopes that Starship will be fully reusable and that both the rocket and its boosters will land after launch and be recovered for future flights. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is partially reusable. The company can land and restart boosters on a regular basis, but not the top of the rocket or the stage.

Earlier this month, Musk emphasized that he was “confident” that the rocket would reach space in 2022, although he was not sure if Starship would successfully reach orbit in the first attempt. So far, at least 90% is funded internally and the company does not envision “international cooperation” or external funding.

Starship essential to Starlink’s financial success

SpaceX has raised billions of dollars over the past few years to fund both Starship and its satellite Internet project, Starlink. The company’s valuation has recently reached $ 100 billion.

However, SpaceX has so far launched about 1,700 Starlink satellites in orbit, but Musk said the first version of the satellite was “financially weak.” The company is steadily expanding Starlink’s user base, with approximately 140,000 users paying for the service for $ 99 per month.

Earlier this year SpaceX outlined improvements to the second version of the satellite, Musk says in his email that “V2 is strong”, but can only be effectively launched by a Starship rocket.

So far, SpaceX has launched Starlink satellites with Falcon 9 rockets, but Musk explained that these rockets do not have the mass or volume needed to effectively deploy a second-generation satellite. .. In short, the success of the Raptor Engine program is also important for the long-term financial stability of SpaceX’s Starlink service. Musk talked about spinning off at an IPO..

In particular, SpaceX is currently increasing production of Starlink antennas “to millions of units a year,” Musk said in an email, but if Raptor isn’t successful, they “will not work otherwise.” “right.

Starship Raptor Engine Crisis Risks Bankruptcy

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