Elon Musk's SpaceX let go 10% of its 6,000 person staff today. In May of last year, the company stated that it has had "many years" of continuing profitability and in recent weeks raised $273 million so far in a planned $500 million funding round.
"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 president Gwynne Shotwell wrote in an email to employees. "Either of these developments, even when attempted separately, have bankrupted other organizations. This means we must part ways with some talented and hardworking members of our team..."
From the Los Angeles Times:
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SpaceX makes most of its money from commercial and national security satellite launches, as well as two NASA contracts, one a multibillion-dollar deal to deliver cargo to the International Space Station and the other up to $2.6 billion to develop a capsule that will deliver astronauts to the space station. The first launch of that capsule, without a crew, is planned for February.
The Elon Musk-led company has even more ambitious — and expensive — plans. Musk has said SpaceX will conduct a “hopper test” of its Mars spaceship prototype as early as next month...
SpaceX is offering a minimum of eight weeks’ pay and other benefits to laid-off workers, according to Shotwell’s email.
I regret to inform you that Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk is back on his inappropriate for a CEO tweets again. Read the rest
On Sunday evening, SpaceX launched a satellite on a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Visual Burrito created this beautiful time-lapse, 4K video of the spectacle in the sky.
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Elon Musk's SpaceX revealed the name of the person who is set to become the first private space tourist to travel to the moon: Yusaku Maezawa. Read the rest
It's an ISS supply run, but what a beautiful boat. Check out the plume -- "Holy Cow, look at that thing!" -- in this clip:
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Senior NASA photographer Bill Ingalls apparently set up his Canon EOS 5DS at an unlucky spot near yesterday's SpaceX rocket launch. He placed it outside the pad perimeter yet the launch sparked a small brush fire that cooked the camera. "I had many other cameras much closer to the pad than this and all are safe," Ingalls wrote.
Fortunately, the SD cards didn't melt and he was able to access the final photos taken by the camera before its untimely death. Two of them are below.
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We were promised flying cars, and we finally pretty much got 'em. Elon Musk, Tesla, and SpaceX's 'Live Views of Starman' is the first car commercial broadcast in real time from space. Read the rest
UPDATE: THEY DID IT. It couldn't have gone more perfectly. Read the rest
A secret American spy satellite code-named Zuma didn't reach orbit in Sunday's failed SpaceX rocket launch. The cost of the missing U.S. government asset, which officially doesn't exist and officially hasn't been lost, is estimated to be in the billions of dollars.
The highly classified payload is “presumed to be a total loss.” Read the rest
Last Friday night, my Facebook feed blew up with images of "UFOs." It took a beat before my concerned SoCal friends got the news that the big illuminated streak they saw across the sky was actually Elon Musk's latest rocket launch on its way to space, and not something nefarious.
Shortly after, my brother Andrew texted me in excitement from Arizona, saying that he and his family had caught the rocket launch from Scottsdale. I was surprised to hear that it was visible in Arizona, as I had already learned it was launched from Vandenberg in California.
Then today I came across this gorgeous timelapse video shot by photographer Jesse Watson and I can see what all the fuss was about.
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This particular launch was close to my hometown in Yuma, Arizona, roughly 400 miles away but perfectly viewable for people in Arizona. I’ve one previous rocket launch years ago from White Sands Missile range in the morning time at sunrise and knew with the correct lighting from sunset that this launch had the opportunity to pop in a dramatic fashion.
I scouted four locations that had foregrounds to add depth to the imagery and was uniquely inspiring to my hometown. Location choices were between a favorite local hiking mountain, the Imperial Sand Dunes, or a small hill that resides in the historic downtown area overlooking the city. I ended up choosing the location that overlooked the city, partially because it was the easiest to access with all of my time-lapse gear.
Elon Musk is going to colonize Mars and has produced a science-fiction extravaganza to prove it. Read the rest
SpaceX has been hard at work designing a stylish and comfortable working spacesuit. Following testing of the suit prototypes, Elon Musk has unveiled a first look. Read the rest
There's something so uncanny and futuristic about Falcon 9 landing that it triggers the part of our brains trained to be on the lookout for computer graphics. The overcast sky and haze of fog gives it a Simon Stålenhag vibe. Read the rest
Kim Stanley Robinson, whose seminal Mars trilogy (coming soon to TV?) changed the way we talk about our neighboring planet, says that Musk's Mars colonization plan "is sort of the 1920s science-fiction cliché of the boy who builds a rocket to the moon in his back yard." Read the rest
Over at National Geographic, Nadia Drake's feature on Elon Musk's plan for millions of people to live on Mars is the best explanation (and contextualization) of this far out vision that I've read. From Nat Geo:
The rocket would deliver the crew capsule to orbit around Earth, then the booster would steer itself toward a soft landing back at the launch pad, a feat that SpaceX rocket boosters have been doing for almost a year now. Next, the booster would pick up a fuel tanker and carry that into orbit, where it would fuel the spaceship for its journey to Mars.
Once en route, that spaceship would deploy solar panels to harvest energy from the sun and conserve valuable propellant for what promises to be an exciting landing on the Red Planet.
As Musk envisions it, fleets of these crew-carrying capsules will remain in Earth orbit until a favorable planetary alignment brings the two planets close together—something that happens every 26 months. “We’d ultimately have upward of a thousand or more spaceships waiting in orbit. And so the Mars colonial fleet would depart en masse,” Musk says.
The key to his plan is reusing the various spaceships as much as possible. “I just don’t think there’s any way to have a self-sustaining Mars base without reusability. I think this is really fundamental,” Musk says. “If wooden sailing ships in the old days were not reusable, I don’t think the United States would exist.”
"Elon Musk: A Million Humans Could Live on Mars By the 2060s" by Nadia Drake (National Geographic, thanks Tom Andres for the video tip!)
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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and its payload—a communications satellite backed by Facebook—were destroyed this morning during launch tests at Cape Canaveral, Fla. No-one was hurt in the explosion. Read the rest
Another successful SpaceX mission to resupply the ISS ended today with a splashdown in the Pacific, southwest of Mexico's Baja Peninsula. Here's an update from NASA. Read the rest