HAWTHORNE, CA—Citing fewer planned launches in 2019, SpaceX says it will layoff roughly 10 percent of its workforce. Those to be cut include production managers, avionics technicians, machinists, inventory specialists and propulsion technicians.
The vast majority of Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s more than 6,000 employees are employed at its headquarters and rocket factory in Hawthorne. Some 577 positions there will be cut, according to Jan Vogel, executive director of the South Bay Workforce Investment Board.
SpaceX flew a record 21 missions in 2018 for customers including commercial satellite operators, NASA and the U.S. military. But the market size for launches is finite, and SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell has warned there might be a slowdown in orders from the geo-telecommunications industry.
“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,” SpaceX said in a statement Friday. “This action is taken only due to the extraordinarily difficult challenges ahead and would not otherwise be necessary.”
Earlier this month, SpaceX disclosed in a regulatory filing that it sold $273 million in equity as part of a plan to raise a total of $500 million. Investors are valuing the company at $30.5 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported in December. The company employees hundreds of workers in Seattle, Florida, Washington, DC, and Texas facilities.
Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 to revolutionize space technology. The company has contracts with NASA to fly American astronauts to the International Space Station. Despite the ongoing government shutdown, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is slated to fly for the first time in February without humans on board. The company is also working on a space-based broadband satellite network and Starship, a larger spacecraft designed to carry humans to Mars.