SpaceX to lay off 10% of its workforce

By Samantha Masunaga

SpaceX will lay off about 10% of its more than 6,000 employees, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.

The company responded to Times questions with a statement: “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. 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.”

Hawthorne-based SpaceX is offering a minimum of eight weeks’ pay and other benefits to those affected, according to an email sent Friday to employees by SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell. The company will also provide assistance with career coaching, resume help and job searches, according to the email.

Even with SpaceX’s ramp-up of satellite launches — 21 in 2018, up from 18 the year before — it has occasionally cut its workforce. Last summer, the company fired some senior managers at the company’s Redmond, Wash., office, because of disagreements over the pacing of the development and testing of its Starlink satellite program.

SpaceX makes most of its money from commercial and national security satellite launches, as well as two NASA contracts, one a multi-billion-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. That same month, the Elon Musk-led company plans a “hopper test” of its Mars spaceship prototype, which is being assembled in south Texas.

Earlier this month, privately-held SpaceX said it raised about $273 million in equity and other securities in an offering that sought to raise about $500 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.