Entangled in the Raptor engine

SpaceX has many plans for 2022 and beyond… but it will already have to terminate the Raptor engine or risk bankruptcy.

Will SpaceX be a giant with feet of mud? In an email recently sent by Elon Musk to SpaceX employees, the billionaire painted a somewhat disturbing picture of the situation on the line. Production of the Raptor missile engine. The situation will be so disastrous that the company will simply take a risk bankruptcy.

The Raptor is the giant rocket engine that will power the iconic spacecraft, SpaceX’s new generation launch system. It should also be used as part of the lunar landing for the Artemis mission, scheduled for 2025. It’s a massive engineering challenge on every level, which has put SpaceX engineers under stress since 2014. But we’re almost now in 2022, and although initial tests are encouraged, The spacecraft still has not reached orbit. Despite the efforts of the Boca Chica forces, we must wait at the very least until next January or February.

The problem is that this Raptor is an important part of SpaceX’s short, medium, and possibly long-term plans. Almost every company’s roadmap today hangs on the engine’s progress. This is particularly the case with the 2.9 billion contracts for the Artemis lunar mission awarded by NASA, much to the chagrin of Blue Origin.

Raptor, the rocket engine of contention. © Brandon DeYoung/SpaceX

SpaceX’s short-term plans are all based on the Raptor

But it is not only this prestigious mission that makes the situation critical. In SpaceX’s plans, the Raptor should allow more than two dozen ships to be sent into orbit as of next year. In addition to the future prospects for satellites Starlink V2 It also directly depends on the state of progress of these engines.

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The concern is that SpaceX is running at the right time; It immediately reinvests a significant portion of its profits into research and development, and bases its roadmaps on sometimes ambitious expectations. This is where the shoe pinches. Because by betting everything on the development of the Raptors, Musk has positioned himself in Very uncomfortable situation.

From now on, the company’s economic future is closely linked to the launch of the future Starships and Starlinks V2, which in turn are based on the Raptors. This is more true for the latter. SpaceX has already invested a small fortune in this new version that is not earning it a single cent at the moment. However, it is this V2 that offers a reality Economic potential In the long run, unlike the first version that is currently circulating. Many observers expect Starlink V2 to become one of the company’s main revenue streams in the near future.

Does Musk Do Too Much?

To hope to stay afloat, SpaceX will definitely have to hook up its engines ASAP. Otherwise, you will start to lose a lot of money. It will likely be enough to risk bankruptcy if the economic weather turns stormy along the way, Musk explains in a tweet. This situation nevertheless raises many questions. First of all: what could have slowed down the development process so much, when SpaceX was so aware of the risks? According to the emails, it appears that Musk blames A Former Senior Official who recently left the company. He is said to have left some nasty surprises behind, which would have slowed down the program’s progress considerably.

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But on the other hand, there is a second parallel reading of these red flags. In fact, Musk is known for his willingness to move forward at a very high speed. And it doesn’t matter if he has to do It blackmails loyalty and puts its employees on its knees to reach its ends. We recall, for example, the surprising crossing of the desert that Tesla witnessed in 2018. Then a senior official put forth a small, memorable sentence. he is Certain that all forces were stuck”In an abusive relationship with Elon Musk‘, with a mixture ofAdmiration and respect, but also for fear of his mood swings and his sometimes unreasonable demands.

In a recent tweet, Musk explained that bankruptcy was “It’s still not possible, but it’s not impossibleSo we must approach this disaster with caution. But whatever the case, there is still an urgent need to lock up the raptors; the sustainability of SpaceX is at stake. We can easily understand that this is generating panic, knowing that we are still talking about Titan. more than $100 billion.

The text of Musk’s email is available below.

Unfortunately, the raptor production crisis is much worse than it seemed a few weeks ago; By researching the problems left by previous managers, it turns out that they are Much more severe than expected. There is no way to put it any other way.
I was on vacation for the weekend, my first in a long time, but instead I’ll be in the Raptors line all night and this weekend.
Unless you have important deadlines for your family or are physically unable to return to Hawthorne, we need all your hands to get through what is, Quite frankly, a disaster.
If we can’t produce enough reliable Raptors, that means we can’t fly the Starship, but also we can’t put the Starlink V2 into orbit. (The Falcon has neither the volume nor the mass to put V2 into orbit.) In addition, Satellite V1 is weak from a financial point of view, while Satellite V2 is strong from a financial point of view.

Additionally, we plan to increase production to several million units per year, which will be quite capital intensive, assuming V2 will be in orbit to handle this demand. Otherwise, these stations will be useless.
So we come to Real risk of bankruptcy If we can’t fly the spacecraft at least once every two weeks next year.

Thanks, Elon.

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