SpaceX, the private rocket company founded by the billionaire Elon Musk, is laying off about 10 percent of its work force in what it framed as a necessary cutback to position the company for an unchartered future.
The company will have about 6,000 employees remaining after the layoffs, which will take place companywide.
“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 said in a statement. “Either of these developments, even when attempted separately, have bankrupted other organizations. This means we must part ways with some talented and hardworking members of our team.”
The Los Angeles Times first reported the cuts, citing an email sent to employees by the company’s president, Gwynne Shotwell. SpaceX was offering at least eight weeks of pay and other benefits to those who were being laid off, the newspaper reported.
The company said the layoffs were a strategic step in anticipation of the “extraordinarily difficult challenges ahead.”
SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, Calif., aims to revolutionize space travel and hopes to one day send humans to colonize Mars. While the company says it is financially strong, the viability of its vision has been hard to measure.
The Wall Street Journal reviewed internal financial documents and reported in 2017 that SpaceX was vulnerable to setbacks, such as a failed rocket launch in 2015 that contributed to a quarter-billion dollar annual loss and a 6 percent drop in revenue.
In 2016, another SpaceX rocket exploded, destroying a $200 million communications satellite on board, and Mr. Musk was criticized for moving too quickly in the complex industry of space travel.
The company has ambitious plans for this year, including the deployment of its first set of Starlink satellites, which promise space-based internet. The test launch of Crew Dragon, a capsule built to carry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, was scheduled for this month but has been pushed back, NASA said this week. If successful, the company could schedule a test launch with a crew aboard for later this year.