Elon Musk: Raptor engine production lags so far behind that bankruptcy threatens

The production of Raptor engines at SpaceX is not going as well as the company would like. The company would have to fly at least two Starships per month next year because otherwise the company ‘risks going bankrupt’. Founder Elon Musk calls the production ‘a disaster’.

Musk describes his concerns in a letter to employees, which Space Explored managed to get their hands on. The founder is concerned about the development and production of the Raptor engines. Those are the engines the company uses for the Starship rocket. According to Musk, the Raptor development is essential for SpaceX, because the Starship rockets will also be used for Starlink V2, the future batch of the Internet satellites. SpaceX cannot use the current Falcon rockets for that, and according to Musk, the current Starlink network is “financially weak”.

It is striking that Musk speaks so much about the financial position of Starlink, and its importance for SpaceX. Musk sees Starlink as the most important source of income for SpaceX in the future, but currently the company earns little money from it. In addition to Raptor engines, SpaceX also wants to build new dishes quickly in order to quickly acquire a large number of new customers. Musk says SpaceX should be able to launch at least two Starship rockets per month by 2022. “Otherwise we run a serious risk of bankruptcy,” Musk wrote in the email.

It had been known for some time that production of the Raptors was not going smoothly, but Musk now says that “the crisis was much worse than it seemed a few weeks ago.” That came to light after a CEO of SpaceX left. While Musk doesn’t mention specific names, it likely refers to Will Heltsley’s departure from SpaceX’s propulsion division. Musk says SpaceX will have to work hard to get production back on track. Employees may therefore only be given time off due to family matters or if they cannot be physically present in the factory.