Space X’s future remains uncertain. In the wake of the departure of two vice presidents, a threat of bankruptcy emerged. Will Heltsely, vice president of propulsion, was removed due to a lack of progress on the newest engines, prior to his departure. Heltsely was in charge of Raptor engines, which power Musk’s Starships. Since then, Musk has called for a complete overhaul of the engine. Lee Rossen, vice president of mission and launch operations as well as Ricky Lim, senior director of mission and launch operation, both left in mid-November. They were all long-time employees of the famed SpaceX.
By now, almost everyone, fans of astronomy or not, has heard of SpaceX, a company founded by Elon Musk to build rocket ships, with the newest among them being Starships, with the goal of bringing people and cargo to Mars. After the loss of major leadership within SpaceX, the new leadership began digging into the problems within SpaceX and they are far more severe than previously thought.
Musk sent a company-wide email detailing the issues of SpaceX, even going so far as to call the Raptor engines, which power the Starships a “disaster” and calling for all hands on deck to try to recover from the said disaster. Despite SpaceX’s valuation recently hitting 100 billion, a growing user base, and 1,700 successful satellite launches, Musk describes his satellite project, Starlink, as “financially weak.”
If Starlink does not succeed, his Raptors are essentially useless. Musk is hoping to launch his first Starship, which he expects to be at least partially recoverable and reusable in either January or February. Though he is not sure if the Starship will reach orbit on the initial launch, he is confident that it will go into space by sometime in 2022. The new satellites, (Starlink 2.0) are extremely heavy and large and require transportation via a large rocket, the Starship, which then, in turn, requires power from Raptor engines. His previous successful launches, the Falcon series of rockets, did not require a Raptor engine. If he is unable to make the Raptor engines work, he cannot launch Starlink 2.0 and thus risks bankruptcy.
There are multiple prototypes in the works, which are being tested in Boca Chica, Texas. Production of the extremely large and complicated Starship rocket is the biggest hurdle that Musk faces.