In an email to SpaceX staff, which reached the Space Explorer website, Ilan Musk referred to the production crisis of the Starship Raptor engine and said that if the company could not fly Starship every two weeks next year, it could face a real risk of bankruptcy.
SpaceX is currently building a startup, its next giant rocket in Bucachica, Texas. According to Mask, the startup will be a spacecraft carrying humans to Mars; But before that ambitious goal can be achieved, it will first bring humans back to the surface of the moon as a moon on NASA’s Artemis program. However, before Starship can carry any humans, SpaceX must solve its engine production problems.
SpaceX has been having trouble producing Raptors for Starship for some time. Raptor is a full-flow combustion engine (FFSC) that uses methane as fuel. As Ilan Mask described in the new email, the problems of Raptor production have become much more public.
Mask focus on Raptor production
Mask, known for his work ethic, refusing to go on vacation and even sleeping on the factory floor, wanted to rest on Thanksgiving; But the dilemma in question changed his plans. Mask writes in part of his email:
Unfortunately, the Raptor production crisis is much more severe than it seemed a few weeks ago. Examining the problems after the departure of the previous senior management, it unfortunately turned out that their severity is much worse than what was reported. There is no way to cover up this dilemma.
I was going to take the weekend off as my first vacation after a long time: but instead I would be on the Raptor production line all day and all weekend.
Starship over the superhero
Mask refers to the “previous senior management” who left the company, Will Heltsley, Is the former senior vice president of the SpaceX propulsion unit. As Cyanobi reported last week, Heltsley resigned from SpaceX due to a lack of progress in Raptor production. Furthermore, Lee Rosen, Senior Vice President of Space X Mission and Operations Rick Lim, The senior director of missions and launch operations have also left the company. Raptor engine production is now under management Jacob McKenzie contract.
Need a startup to launch the second generation Starlink
In the continuation of his email, Mask asks all the employees of the company to be ready to work with all their might:
Unless you have important family issues or can’t physically return to Hawthorne (SpaceX, California), we all need the best we can to get rid of what is clearly a disaster.
If we can not build enough reliable Raptors, then the consequence for SpaceX is that we can not fly the startup. This then means that we will not be able to fly the second version of Starlink satellites (the Falcon rocket does not have the capacity needed to launch the second generation Starlink). The first version of the satellite itself is financially weak; While the second version is powerful in this respect.
In addition, we are increasing the production volume of the terminal to several million units per year, assuming that the second version of Starlink will be in order to meet the demand for bandwidth in the circuit. This will consume a lot of capital. But if new satellites do not reach orbit, the terminals will be useless.
SpaceX has recently launched version 1.5 satellites. The company was able to save money by launching Starlink over its missiles. However, Musk’s statement that version one of Starlink is financially weak is significant. SpaceX initially lost almost a thousand dollars per customer in user terminals alone. The company has since reduced costs and introduced a new model of user terminal. Nevertheless, SpaceX has been operating at a major initial loss in order to build a customer base for its near-Earth satellite system. This loss does not take into account even the millions of dollars in cost per Falcon 9 launch and the actual cost of the satellites in orbit.
Ilan Mask ends his email with a scary message:
If we do not reach the flight rate for Starship at least once every two weeks next year, we will face the real risk of bankruptcy.
Recent negative news comes as SpaceX looks highly successful from the outside. SpaceX recently grossed more than $ 100 billion, pulled the Starlink program out of beta, and resumed its partnership with NASA to build a monthly startup after the Blue Argin lawsuit was closed.
Starship is vital to the future of SpaceX. Although the Falcon 9, as the company’s most experienced rocket launcher, has been a huge success, the transition to full reusability will allow SpaceX to launch far more shipments at a lower cost.
The startup build program takes place in an open environment, so that eager spectators can watch the company’s successes and failures. The explosion of the initial test versions and then the successful submarine flight of the SN15 version attracted a lot of attention. However, preparing the startup for the first test flight so far has been challenging.
Starship thermal tiles
The latest test version of Starship, called Ship 20, will fly into Earth orbit early next year; But the missile is not expected to survive this tough test. Starship is scheduled to land off the coast of Hawaii; But as Space Explorer predicts, the spacecraft will probably not be able to get there.
Thermal tiles protect the atmosphere from scorching heat as it re-enters the atmosphere.
The current thermal tiles and their connection system to the rocket body are apparently prone to cracking and falling; As a result, if they rely on them, the Shape 20 and future starships will fail to re-enter the atmosphere. If SpaceX wants to have multiple versions of StarShip fully ready to fly, it needs to figure out how to produce more powerful thermal tiles and how to install them better. New images from Starbys, the construction site of the Starship, show a slight change in the color of the installed tiles, thus showing that SpaceX is apparently improving the heat shield.
Therefore, SpaceX still has a long way to go to successfully launch a Starship orbital flight, and launching every two weeks seems to be an ambitious goal. 2022 will be a crucial year for the next-generation SpaceX rocket.