On Black Friday, Elon Musk sent a disturbed e-mail to SpaceX employees asking them to work on the weekend as well, because of a “crisis” in the production of Raptor rocket engines. Musk, known as the founder of Tesla, which revolutionized vehicle manufacturing with its electric cars, and the richest man in the world, says SpaceX is “in real danger of bankruptcy” if they can’t power their Starship spacecraft, which will run many test flights next year.
The company tested several Starship prototypes this year, several of them as fireballs. The spacecraft is expected to make its first spaceflight in the first months of 2022. The development of Starship is of particular significance because the Muskets received $ 2.9 billion in funding from NASA and will be the landing unit for the Artemis program to land on the new moon by 2025.
Veterans fell into it
Musk says they need to launch a Starship spacecraft every two weeks to keep the company afloat. The Starship is powered by a Raptor running on a mixture of liquid methane and oxygen. Earlier this month, several senior executives at the company’s senior level had to leave the company when it turned out that the development of Raptor engines was lagging behind. Will Heltsley, who is directly responsible for the program, flew after 12 years, was accompanied by Lee Rosen and Ricky Lim, leaders in charge of missions and launches,
With 8 and 13 year old SpaceX careers behind them.
Raptor engines are expected to be twice the thrust of the Kerlin-fueled Merlin engines used in the successful Falcon 9 launch vehicles. In Starship, there would be 6 such rockets in 6, the Super Heavy used to launch them, in the first stage.
The company’s survival also depends on Starship and its engines because Falcon 9 missiles can no longer economically launch SpaceX’s planned new generation of satellite satellites, Starlink. 1,800 pieces from the first generation have been fired so far, but they want to set a constellation of 12,000 of the second generation capable of laser communication with each other orbiting the Earth. The deployment of the system is important because the production of surface antennas has now picked up, so now it all depends on whether enough subscribers can be collected.
(CNBC, The Next Web, The Verge, Wikipedia)
(Cover image: Joe Raedle / Getty Images)