“The Raptor production crisis is much worse than it seemed a few weeks ago,” Musk wrote.
Raptor engines power the company’s Starship rocket, with Musk adding that SpaceX faces “genuine risk of bankruptcy if we cannot achieve a Starship flight rate of at least once every two weeks next year.”
Elon Musk is angry with the lack of progress SpaceX has made in developing the Raptor engines that power its Starship rocket. He described a dire situation the day after Thanksgiving in a companywide email, a copy of which was obtained by CNBC. “The Raptor production crisis is much worse than it seemed a few weeks ago,” Musk wrote. “We face genuine risk of bankruptcy if we cannot achieve a Starship flight rate of at least once every two weeks next year,” Musk added later. Starship is the massive, next-generation rocket SpaceX is developing to launch cargo and people on missions to the moon and Mars. The company is testing prototypes at a facility in southern Texas and has flown multiple short test flights. But to move to orbital launches, the rocket prototypes will need as many as 39 Raptor engines each – necessitating a sharp ramp in engine production. Musk’s email to SpaceX employees provides more context to the significance of the departure of former Vice President of Propulsion Will Heltsley earlier this month. Heltsley had been taken off Raptor development before he left, CNBC reported, with Musk noting in his email that the company’s leadership has been digging into the program’s problems since then – and discovering the circumstances “to be far more severe” than Musk previously thought.