Musk reportedly tells SpaceX workers Starship rocket is top priority
Elon Musk has told SpaceX employees to focus on the mission to send people to the moon and Mars as their top priority following the company’s success in sending astronauts into orbit last month.
Musk called on employees to accelerate the pace of progress for the company’s Starship rocket program “dramatically and immediately,” CNBC reported, citing a company-wide email it had seen.
“Please consider the top SpaceX priority (apart from anything that could reduce Dragon return risk) to be Starship,” Musk wrote.
SpaceX did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Musk’s email.
His space company launched a pair of NASA astronauts on May 30, marking a historic first for SpaceX and a crucial step forward for the U.S. space program.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule carried the astronauts to orbit and on to the International Space Station. That mission is ongoing, as Musk noted, with the spacecraft set to return the astronauts to Earth in the next couple months.
The Falcon 9 rocket that launched the astronauts is the mainstay of SpaceX’s business, with 85 missions over the past decade. But Starship represents the company’s aim to make obsolete even the cost-saving advances of its Falcon 9 fleet. Its Falcon 9 rockets are partially reusable, as the company often lands the large “booster” stage of the rocket and recovers the rocket’s nosecone. But Musk’s goal is to make Starship fully reusable — envisioning a rocket that is more akin to a commercial airplane, with short turnaround times between flights.
“We need to accelerate Starship progress,” Musk said in Saturday’s email.
Musk’s emphasis on Starship comes nine months after a controversial comment by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, just before SpaceX unveiled the latest prototype.
The NASA chief declared his agency wanted “to see the same level of enthusiasm” for SpaceX launching NASA astronauts as there was for the Starship program, saying it was “time to deliver.”