Elon Musk shows off prototype of Mars-bound rocket, Starship

Starship test flight rocket just finished assembly at the SpaceX Texas launch site

The company has two NASA contracts, a multibillion-dollar deal to deliver thousands of pounds of cargo to the International Space Station, and competes for military launch contracts.

"This action is taken only due to the extraordinarily hard challenges ahead and would not otherwise be necessary, " the company said in a statement.

"Either of these developments, even when attempted separately, have bankrupted other organisations".

Hawthorne-based SpaceX is offering a minimum of eight weeks' pay and other benefits to those affected, according to an email sent on Friday to employees by SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell. "This means we must part ways with some talented and hardworking members of our team", the company said.

In June, 2018, Elon Musk fired at least seven people in the senior management team leading a SpaceX satellite launch project, Reuters reported in November.

The completed Starship test article at SpaceX's Texas launch site. The first unpiloted test flight of the vehicle is planned as early as February, with the piloted mission planned for sometime in the summer. SpaceX also has several ambitious and hugely expensive projects in the works, including a spaceship of up to $10 billion.

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Musk previously estimated that the cost of the development of the programme would run the company between $2 (£1.5 billion) and $10 billion (£7.7 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.

In May, Shotwell told CNBC that the company is profitable and has had "many years" of profitability.

SpaceX's Starlink program is competing with OneWeb and Canada's Telesat to be the first to market with a new satellite-based internet service.

The announcement came as SpaceX last Friday launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California carrying 10 communications satellites. The company also took on about $250 million in debt a year ago in its first loan sale, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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