SpaceX laying off 10 percent of its workforce

Elon Musk SpaceX starship

The company responded to Los Angeles 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".

The company broke its own record with 21 launches in 2018.

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", it added.

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

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SpaceX founder Musk shared the first real images of the prototype from its Texas launch site and reassured his followers it is "not a rendering". In December, it launched its first U.S. national security space mission from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

In October, Elon Musk reportedly at least seven people from senior management at the SpaceX facilities in Redmond, Washington, as he was not satisfied with the speed of developing and testing Starlink satellites. Its first test flights - suborbital "hops" - could come in March or April. SpaceX also in 2014 laid off a significant number of workers, with two former structural technicians later suing the company over claims that SpaceX violated labour laws by failing to properly notify them beforehand.

Starship - previously known as BFR, Big Falcon Rocket, or the Big F***ing Rocket - is key to Musk's plans to send humans to Mars. Led by CEO Elon Musk and CFO Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX's headquarters are in Hawthorne, California.

In December, the Wall Street Journal reported that SpaceX was raising $500 million, taking its valuation to $30.5 billion. That would mean approximately 600 or more employees are losing their jobs, based on prior statements by company officials that the company more than 6,000 employees. SpaceX Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell said during a TED Talk past year that she expects the satellite constellation to cost about $10 billion to deploy.

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