SpaceX plans to lay off over 600 workers

Elon Musk shares prototype of SpaceX Starship

Highlights include its multibillion-dollar contracts to resupply the International Space Station and develop a space taxi for NASA astronauts, plus last year's maiden launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket.

About 600 of the firm's 6,000-strong workforce are being laid off, with the company blaming "extraordinary hard challenges ahead" for its decision. "Either of these developments, even when attempted separately, have bankrupted other organisations", the company said in a statement to Gizmodo.

According to reports on the internet, Musk said that the company should have its first orbital prototype by June this year.

"This means we must part ways with some talented and hardworking members of our team", the statement continued.

SpaceX makes its money through private contract launches and USA government contract launches for NASA and national security missions.

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Last month, SpaceX launched its first national security space mission for the USA military, using a Falcon 9 rocket to carry a $500 million Global Positioning System satellite made by Lockheed Martin. Musk reportedly fired at least seven people last summer over disagreements about the performance speed of the company's Starlink satellite programme; all were reported to have been senior management staffers.

Musk posted pictures on Twitter late Thursday of the Starship Hopper prototype, which awaits its first flight test in Texas in the coming weeks. The project is expected to cost the company between $2 billion and $10 billion.

SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk revealed a photo of an experimental rocket that can help him achieve his dream of one day landing on the surface of Mars.

The Wall Street Journal reported back in December that the company planned to raise $500 million, taking its valuation to $30.5 billion.

And Musk recently shared images of an operational model for Starship that he plans to use to conduct short "hop" test flights this year at a facility in Texas. "This is probably one of the most challenging - if not the most challenging - projects we've undertaken", Shotwell said.

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