What Happened: Will Heltsley, a SpaceX veteran and vice president of propulsion, and Lee Rosen, SpaceX vice president of mission and launch operations, have left the company.
Heltsley joined SpaceX in 2009 and was recently taken off the Raptor engine development due to a lack of progress, the report noted.
SpaceX’s Jacob McKenzie has now been given the charge to lead the Raptor engine development and production. McKenzie has been with SpaceX for over six years now.
The Raptor engines power SpaceX’s Starship rocket and Super Heavy boosters.
Rosen left last week and had been with SpaceX since 2013. Ricky Lim, senior director of mission and launch operations, who joined SpaceX in 2008, has left the company as well.
Why It Matters: The Musk-led company plans to fly its fully reusable, biggest rocket Starship to orbit in January and eventually aims for Starship to replace its existing rockets — Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and Dragon 2 — and be able to carry much more mass into orbit.
SpaceX’s first attempt to launch the Starship in orbit would be followed by many more such flights throughout the year.
Musk dreams of colonizing Mars and founded SpaceX with the mission to make humanity multiplanetary. He has in the past said he remains “highly confident” that SpaceX would land humans on Mars by 2026.
Musk had in July said SpaceX is developing a fully-reusable Starship that can deliver a payload of around 150 tonnes to low Earth Orbit and about 250 tonnes when expendable. The ambitious transportation system can also carry humanity to the moon, Mars and make interplanetary travel possible.
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