Elon Musk reveals SpaceX Starship

FILE SpaceX CEO Elon Musk

"This action is taken only due to the extraordinarily hard challenges ahead and would not otherwise be necessary".

SpaceX now launches regular supply missions to the astronauts living at the International Space Station, using its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo capsule.

The company cited the need to be leaner to keep delivering for customers and develop spacecraft and space-based internet.

This year, the company plans to begin Starship test flights and to launch the first Starlink satellites.

In December, the Wall Street Journal reported that SpaceX was raising $500 million, taking its valuation to $30.5 billion.

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Last week, Musk hinted that the suborbital Starship test could happen as soon as February, but some "unforeseen issues" could push it back a month. The Washington Post reported the review was ordered, in part, because of concerns raised in the wake of a podcast in which Musk apparently smoked marijuana.

The statement did not disclose the size of the layoffs, but a company source, speaking on background, estimated the cuts at 10 percent of the workforce. The company also reportedly plans to replace their current Falcon and Falcon Heavy rockets with this starship model in the near future, making the success of the hopper extremely important to the company.

SpaceX is financially healthy and was recently valued at $30bn (£23bn).

Founded in 2002, SpaceX has racked up a string of launch successes, punctuated by only a few failures over the past 16 years. The company holds another NASA contract for an unspecified amount for at least six additional flights through 2024.

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