“We face a real risk of bankruptcy if we don’t get Starship to fly at least once every two weeks next year. ” These are the words of Elon Musk in an internal email to SpaceX employees after discovering that there is a “Production crisis” of the new Raptor engine, which is “much worse than it looked a few weeks ago.”
According to this email – obtained by Space Explored – Musk has encountered unexpected problems after the departure of the former SpaceX engine chief, which occurred on November 22 by the “Lack of progress” in the production of the Raptor for the Starship.
The situation is “a disaster”
Musk’s email leaves no room for doubt. He himself, the company’s chief engineer, is now in an emergency operation to try to fix these problems: “Unfortunately, the Raptor production crisis is much worse than it looked a few weeks ago,” says Musk. “As we have been investigating the problems after the departure of the previous managers, unfortunately have turned out to be much more serious what had been reported ”.
Musk says he’s canceled his first weekend off in a long time, referring to the long Thanksgiving holiday. “Instead, I’ll be on the line [de producción del] Abductor all night and all weekend“He says before asking all employees to return to the factory to do the same:” Unless you have critical family matters or cannot physically return to Hawthorne, we will need all the hands on work to recover from what it is, frankly, a disaster ”. SpaceX’s chief engineer is known both for his extensive technical knowledge like having slept for weeks in the SpaceX and Tesla factories to solve production problems.
Initially, the Starship will utilize 29 raptors in its 70 meter high first phase, the Super Heavy Booster. Then it will go to 33. To this we must add the 9 from the second phase. A total of 42 engines. Although the ship will be reusable in its entirety, it is a huge number of engines. Especially since Musk needs to have multiple Starships operational.
The obvious problem is that if they fail to produce Raptors quickly and reliably, the company will not be able to meet its launch commitments for 2022, which pass through its own: launch the new constellations of Starlink satellites version 2.0.
The business depends on Starship
“If we can’t get enough reliable Raptors made We won’t be able to fly the Starship which means that then we will not be able to launch the Starlink Satellite V2 (the Falcon has neither the volume nor the mass in orbit needed for the V2 satellite). The V1 satellite, by itself, is financially weak, while the V2 is strong.
Having version 2 of Starlink in orbit, he says, is crucial because they are “increasing the production of terminals [de internet] to several million units a year, which will consume a huge capital ”. To be able to sell the internet service to those millions of users need the bandwidth of the new satellites in orbit “Otherwise, these terminals will be useless,” says Musk.
Ultimately, for Elon Musk and SpaceX, the Starship is not just a project to colonize Mars or return to the Moon with NASA. It is a crucial part of keeping your company alive. And if it is already difficult to launch one a month, when it is not yet proven that it can reach orbit and return without problems, the idea that they need a launch every two weeks seems crazy. As in the early days of SpaceX or multiple times with Tesla, Musk is playing a card. The problem is that you can’t always score a goal in the minute discount.