In an email to his employees, Elon Musk warned that his company, SpaceX faces a “genuine risk of bankruptcy” due to delays in the production of the Raptor engines for its Starship rocket.
“The Raptor production crisis is much worse than it seemed a few weeks ago,” Musk wrote in the email seen by CNBC. “We face genuine risk of bankruptcy if we cannot achieve a Starship flight rate of at least once every two weeks next year.”
While the SpaceX founder did not confirm the veracity of the email, he said that in the case of a severe global recession, “bankruptcy, while still unlikely, is not impossible”.
The Starship program is currently in development in Texas. Its goal is to develop a vehicle to transport passengers to the Moon and eventually even to Mars. To enter orbit, each Starship spacecraft and its launcher requires 39 Raptor engines.
“The magnitude of the Starship program is not widely appreciated. It is designed to extend life to Mars (and the moon), which requires ~1000 times more payload to orbit than all current Earth rockets combined,” Musk added.
The Starship vehicle should be capable of coming and going into space. It could eventually take over the missions of the Falcon 9 and the Falcon Heavy launchers currently being used by SpaceX. The first launch of Starship into orbit is scheduled for January or February 2022.