SpaceX Executive Teases Mysterious 2019 Rocket Launches: What They Could Be

SpaceX Vice President of Commercial Sales, Jonathan Hofeller, teased that the company will try to surpass last year’s launch tally during his speech …

SpaceX set a company record in 2018 by launching 21 flights and it may try to out do itself again in 2019. SpaceX Vice President of Commercial Sales, Jonathan Hofeller, teased that the company will try to surpass last year’s launch tally during his speech at the 2019 SmallSat Symposium in California on Wednesday. It’s an even more ambitious plan than the estimates floated by SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell in May 2018.

At the time, Shotwell noted that SpaceX would experience a “slow down” in rocket launches in 2019 during an interview with CNBC. This means Hofeller might have hinted at launch plans that have not yet been made public.

Specifically, Shotwell stated that SpaceX would pull off as many launches as it did in 2017, which was 18. Hofeller’s statements, first reported by Teslarati, adds at least another four to the docket, which likely means one of two things: Either the company has a handful of surprise launches up its sleeve or it’s including the Starship hopper’s “hop tests in Hofeller’s figure.”

Last May, SpaceX Prez Gwynne Shotwell was projecting 24 to 28 launches for 2018 but more like 18 for 2019. 21+ may be an “aspirational goal,” unless they’re counting Starship Hopper: https://t.co/RDbdPLA2Z7

— Alan Boyle (@b0yle) February 7, 2019

SpaceX’s launch manifest is notoriously vague and doesn’t list the expected dates of its future missions. But the SpaceX diehards of Reddit have crowd-sourced their own manifest on the SpaceX subreddit that tentatively states that the company is planning 21 total launches this year between the Falcon 9 and the Falcon Heavy.

If the company succeeds at launching all of the commercial flights — as well as its Crew Dragon test launches for NASA — listed on the crowd-sourced list, it would just match 2018’s record. Including the Starship hopper’s test could be a way to technically break this record, but that launch record would definitely require an asterisk.

After all, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the Starship prototype will “fly suborbital hops” early in 2019. All of its other launches will have to breach the atmosphere to be considered successful, which isn’t exactly an apples-to-apples comparison with the rest of the missions laid out in SpaceX’s Reddit manifest.

Hofeller might have just rattled off an aspirational goal, but this could be the first sign of another record-breaking year for Musk’s aerospace company.

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SpaceX Layoffs Caused by ‘Absolutely Insane’ Projects

On investors call on last Wednesday at SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s divulged some of the details for the slash. The billionaire entrepreneur said that two …

As it’s been already announced by COO and President Gwynne Shotwell earlier in January, SpaceX, one of the world’s biggest start-ups is trimming its workforce by almost ten percent.

On investors call on last Wednesday at SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s divulged some of the details for the slash. The billionaire entrepreneur said that two ‘absolutely insane’ projects, namely Starlink and Starship can ‘bankrupt the company’ – thus the dismissal of the six hundred employees.

Two totally different cases

Mr. Musk claimed that the recent layoffs at Tesla and SpaceX are due to totally different reasons.

A steady growth of labor force at Tesla, reaching an extensive number of forty thousand workers, resulted in unwanted duplication of some positions. That, in addition to the goal of their current project – making electric cars broadly available by the Model 3 resulted in the global restructuring.

While in case of SpaceX, he named two of the ongoing projects of the company ‘insane’: Starlink, an enterprise to bring high-speed internet coverage via a network of satellites; and Starship, the reusable rocket aimed to travel humans to Mars and back. Musk and Shotwell announced the news at an all-hands meeting offering help for those dismissed in resume-writing as well as in job-hunting. We all hope that it won’t take long to find a new, similarly challenging job for those exceptionally well-trained people!

Visionary optimism

Mr. Musk is probably right using harsh words describing the private space company’s ventures: ‘global space-base internet and interplanetary aircraft’. He adds that this is one of the toughest industry in the world, where staying alive for a company is a triumph in itself, and, needless to say, he wants it to be profitable too.

Facing unseen challenges may sound like generic reasoning, although knowing that SpaceX is basically building a rocket from scratch (or, as Musk tweeted once, from a white sheet of paper); it is easy to imagine the amount of incalculable, hiding elements of such ambitious operations.

Speaking of profitability, CNBC asked COO Shotwell about SpaceX going public, due to the extreme demand for its shares worldwide, who said that it is not a question currently being on the table.

The way the company currently raises fund is project-based (‘bit by bit’) with a strong emphasis on the fact that the investors have to share the company’s vision laid out by founder and CEO Elon Musk.

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SpaceX- a space start-up, currently worth around 30 billion US dollars is in a position to be picky about its investors. The decision of keeping a company private certainly ensures that Mr. Musk is the only one to navigate his firm. The question is if it can be a success story for not only the founder but also the employees who are using their creativity, talent, and own visionary for the company’s benefit.

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Elon Musk blames SpaceX layoffs on ‘absolutely insane’ Mars rocket and satellite internet projects

Musk explained that the recent layoffs at SpaceX were different than those at Tesla, the latter of which he said came from the need “to be relentless …

Starlink and Starship would more than “bankrupt the company” if SpaceX did not reduce costs, Musk said.

“And so, SpaceX has to be incredibly spartan with expenditures until those programs reach fruition,” Musk added.

This was Musk’s full quote about SpaceX during the Tesla fourth-quarter earnings call:

“On the SpaceX side, the cost reduction was for a different reason unrelated to – SpaceX has two absolutely insane projects that would not only bankrupt the company. There’s Starship and Starlink. And so, SpaceX has to be incredibly Spartan with expenditures until those programs reach fruition.”

SpaceX this month laid off about 10 percent of its workforce, or more than 600 employees, across all its departments. SpaceX said in a statement that there are “extraordinarily difficult challenges ahead” if the company is “to succeed in developing interplanetary spacecraft and a global space-based Internet.” Musk and President Gwynne Shotwell announced the layoffs at an all-hands meeting on Jan. 11. The company offered assistance with job hunting and resume-writing, as well as other severance benefits.to those who were let go. SpaceX now employs about 6,400 people, CNBC reported.

Starlink is one of the keys to the financing SpaceX’s future endeavors. Musk’s company is going head-to-head with several other proposed constellations of satellites, which all promise to provide high-speed broadband internet to anywhere in the world. In March, the FCC gave SpaceX permission for its plan to launch 4,425 satellites into space. SpaceX launched the first two test satellites last February.

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SpaceX Announces Major Layoffs

HAWTHORNE, CA—Citing fewer planned launches in 2019, SpaceX says it will layoff roughly 10 percent of its workforce. Those to be cut include …

HAWTHORNE, CA—Citing fewer planned launches in 2019, SpaceX says it will layoff roughly 10 percent of its workforce. Those to be cut include production managers, avionics technicians, machinists, inventory specialists and propulsion technicians.

The vast majority of Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s more than 6,000 employees are employed at its headquarters and rocket factory in Hawthorne. Some 577 positions there will be cut, according to Jan Vogel, executive director of the South Bay Workforce Investment Board.

SpaceX flew a record 21 missions in 2018 for customers including commercial satellite operators, NASA and the U.S. military. But the market size for launches is finite, and SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell has warned there might be a slowdown in orders from the geo-telecommunications industry.

“To continue delivering for our customers and to succeed in developing interplanetary spacecraft and a global space-based Internet, SpaceX must become a leaner company,” SpaceX said in a statement Friday. “This action is taken only due to the extraordinarily difficult challenges ahead and would not otherwise be necessary.”

Earlier this month, SpaceX disclosed in a regulatory filing that it sold $273 million in equity as part of a plan to raise a total of $500 million. Investors are valuing the company at $30.5 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported in December. The company employees hundreds of workers in Seattle, Florida, Washington, DC, and Texas facilities.

Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 to revolutionize space technology. The company has contracts with NASA to fly American astronauts to the International Space Station. Despite the ongoing government shutdown, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is slated to fly for the first time in February without humans on board. The company is also working on a space-based broadband satellite network and Starship, a larger spacecraft designed to carry humans to Mars.

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SpaceX Laying-off 10% of Employees as Launch Business Wanes

Close to 600 employees of SpaceX have lost or will lose their jobs over the next few days as the space transportation company founded by Elon Musk …

Close to 600 employees of SpaceX have lost or will lose their jobs over the next few days as the space transportation company founded by Elon Musk fights to stay in business as the number of rocket launches is expected to drop this year.

The total of those being let go represents close to 10% of the company’s total workforce of some 6,000 employees. Most of those to be fired work at the company’s headquarters and rocket factory located at Hawthorne, California.

Analysts say this mass firing is the first large-scale reduction of its workforce since SpaceX was founded in 2002. The company, however, has laid-off many employees before but not on this scale.

In a statement, SpaceX said its ability to continue delivering for its customers and to succeed in developing interplanetary spacecraft and a global space-based Internet means “SpaceX must become a leaner company.”

And in a sop to the employees it fired, SpaceX said it is grateful for everything they’ve accomplished and their commitment to SpaceX’s mission. SpaceX said the employee firings were the result of the extraordinarily difficult challenges ahead and would not otherwise be necessary.

In late 2018, SpaceX President and CEO Gwynne Shotwell warned there might be a slowdown in the number of satellites to be launched by firms in the geo-telecommunications industry. These commercial launches are the lifeblood of SpaceX.

SpaceX says it costs more than $60 million to launch a Falcon 9 rocket on a commercial mission such as deploying a telecommunications satellite to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). On the other hand, it will cost a client some $90 million to use the more powerful Falcon Heavy rocket.

“Next year (2019) you won’t see as many launches as you see in 2018,” said Shotwell. “2019 is a lower-cadence year.”

Ironically, Space X had its best year in 2018. It successfully launched 21 missions, giving it the U.S. record for the most number of launches in a year.

It’s always unfortunate when there are large layoffs, noted Jan Vogel, executive director of the South Bay Workforce Investment Board.

He said the board is in touch with SpaceX and is ready to provide transitional services to employees that have been let go. We’re ready to help people, said Vogel.

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