An Email from Elon to SpaceX Employees – TTG

Unfortunately, the Raptor production crisis is much worse than it had seemed a few weeks ago. As we have dug into the issues following the exiting of prior senior management, they have unfortunately turned out to be far more severe than was reported. There is no way to sugarcoat this.

I was going to take this weekend off, as my first weekend off in a long time, but instead, I will be on the Raptor line all night and through the weekend.

Unless you have critical family matters or cannot physically return to Hawthorne, we will need all hands on deck to recover from what is, quite frankly, a disaster.

The consequences for SpaceX if we can not get enough reliable Raptors made is that we then can’t fly Starship, which means we then can’t fly Starlink Satellite V2 (Falcon has neither the volume nor the mass to orbit needed for satellite V2). Satellite V1, by itself, is financially weak, while V2 is strong.

In addition, we are spooling up terminal production to several million units per year, which will consume massive capital, assuming that satellite V2 will be on orbit to handle the bandwidth demand. These terminals will be useless otherwise.

What it comes down to, is that we face a genuine risk of bankruptcy if we can’t achieve a Starship flight rate of at least once every two weeks next year.

Thanks,

Elon 

https://www.space.com/starship-engine-crisis-spacex-elon-musk

Comment: Seems SpaceX has had a hiccup with their Raptor engine production and that Raptor is the key to all Elon’s future space endeavors. Starship needs the Raptors to get into orbit. Starlink needs sufficient Starships to deploy their next generation satellites. Without those satellites, Starlink is hosed. As Elon said, he’s not sugar coating it. I’m fairly confident he’ll figure it out.

I finally learned how the Starship is supposed to beat the heat of reentry. They’re relying on ceramic tiles rather than leaking fuel through pores on the Starship hull as was originally planned or the special stainless steel alloy. Good luck with that. So far those tiles haven’t passed any tests, but SpaceX still plans to launch a Starship to orbit. Elon fully expects it won’t survive reentry, but he’ll learn a butt load in the process. As with the Raptor production, he’ll figure it out.

TTG 

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16 Responses to An Email from Elon to SpaceX Employees – TTG

  1. jerseycityjoan says:

    I do not know a thing about any of the technical challenges they are facing or what his financial challenges are, either.

    All I know is that this seems to be a call to his employees to ignore potential problems, shut up and cut whatever corners are necessary to meet deadlines. He is threatening them that if they do not, all their jobs and the whole company will disappear.

    I do not see how you can run a space company or car company safely if you make meeting deadlines the only goal, safety be damned.

    Yet you do not seemed to be bothered by this memo. What am I missing?

    • TTG says:

      I don’t see a call to cut corners, but I do see a call for all his employees to show the same maniacal drive that Elon has. That’s a far taller order than a call to cut corners.

      • blue peacock says:

        👍

        That’s what makes an entrepreneur. Maniacal drive. That’s what made America – that pioneering spirit.

        How do we get the majority of Americans to exhibit that spirit instead of getting their panties twisted in a knot over every little thing? Especially fear!

    • Fred says:

      jerseycityjoan,

      It strikes me that the prior executive leadership did something not up to snuff. Having worked at one of the big three I can say that safety is always paramount, it is the unexpected that generally manages to screw things up. That and the lag time on design changes that don’t show a defect (due to wear, tear, corrossion, etc beyond what testing had shown) until years down the road.

    • Eliot says:

      jerseycityjoan,

      He’s asking men to do their duty, and (make a small) sacrifice for something greater than their own existence.

      I expect everyone will be there this weekend.

      – Eliot

    • Lefty665 says:

      jerseycityjoan:

      It looks more to me like an engineer appealing to other engineers and technicians to work with him to do what they do, and do best, which is to solve problems. Meeting deadlines was an objective, solving rocket motor problems was the goal. It seems you missed that.

      By listing the potential consequences of failure to their mission Musk highlighted the importance of achieving both the goal and the objective.

      “Safety be damned” was not a goal, an objective, a policy or a procedure. It was your assumption.

      Funny how different things can look to people. What this means to me is that I should stop my holding my breath waiting for Starlink and love my pokey DSL until Starlink gets here. Hope Musk is making good use of my $500 deposit.

  2. jim ticehurst says:

    Elon is a Genius..Look at that photo of Those Rocket Engines..Look at Whan he has accomplished..Thank God we Have Americans Left…Who Ride To Live…and Live to Ride…Go Elon..Go..

  3. Sam says:

    The overarching problem is that we need better mental firewalls for the information constantly coming at us.

    Critical & first principles thinking should be a required course in middle school.

    Who wrote the software running in your head? Are you sure you actually want it there?

    https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1465786605889892356?s=21

    Indeed Elon! George Carlin got it way back.

    https://youtu.be/cPAq8aH-FyQ

    • TTG says:

      I saw him when he hosted SNL. He was funny and fully capable of laughing at himself. That’s a remarkable trait in someone of his abilities and wealth.

  4. Christian J. Chuba says:

    Leaked email to garner support for a government bailout? We have pretty much outsourced our space program.

    Private profits, public losses.

  5. Leith says:

    I wonder what specific part or procedure is causing the production crisis? My first thought was the casting of the turbopump with the new SX500 alloy. That pump will have to withstand 800 Bar of pressure (~12,000 psi). All the while it will be subjected to extremely high temperatures and high corrosion. But I thought Musk tweeted out a couple of years ago that they had a foundry in place. I’ve also seen mentions of 3D printing of SX500 parts. So hard to know what is going on. He is keeping it under wraps.

    But the main problem may well be the loss of top production leadership that Musk alludes to in his email. The Senior VP of Raptor production left. As did many mid-level managers.

    I think the bankruptcy hint in the email is BS. SpaceX is doing extremely well financially:
    “SpaceX has had a banner year: The company has launched 25 successful Falcon 9 missions, carried 12 astronauts to orbit with its Dragon capsules, grown its Starlink satellite internet service to about 140,000 users, and continued to make progress with Starship.”

    • TTG says:

      I thought SpaceX was in pretty good shape financially as well. But the engineering methodology of building rockets and destroying them to advance the science is undoubtedly an expensive proposition. As he moves to reliable orbital flight with the Starship, he’s going to lose a few along with a good number of Raptors.

  6. cofer says:

    A real leader, go Elon and good luck.

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