Twitter lawsuit adds to Elon Musk’s challenges at Tesla and SpaceX

Tesla and SpaceX did not respond to requests for comment.

Earlier this month, Tesla reported its first consecutive drop in quarterly deliveries in more than two years, largely reflecting supply chain disruptions and extended factory shutdowns in China due to Covid-19-related shutdowns there.

Elon Musk leaves court after his audition at the Solar City trial in Wilmington, Dale, last year.


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Samuel Corum/Bloomberg News

the master. Musk also recently described the company’s new plants in Germany and Texas as “huge money furnaces.” Factories opened earlier this year, but the company has struggled to ramp up production in both, Mr. Musk said.

“Berlin and Austin are losing billions of dollars right now because there are so many expenses and hardly any production,” he said in a late May interview with the Tesla Owners Club. the master. Musk, who has been expressing concerns about the global economy, began a round of job cuts at the automaker last month.

Gene Munster, managing partner at research and investment firm Loup Ventures, said Tesla’s production challenges, some of which were largely outside the company’s control, threatened to miss a “golden opportunity” to market electric cars ahead of competitors.

“You can’t give oxygen to your competitors,” the master said. Monster, a longtime Tesla observer whose company does not own company stock.

On Wednesday, Andrej Karpathy, a longtime CEO who played a key role in developing Tesla’s advanced driver assistance system known as Autopilot, said he was leaving the company. the master. Musk thanked on Twitter Mr. Karpathy for his contributions.

last year, mr. Musk was warned that if a severe global recession dried up the availability of capital and liquidity while SpaceX was losing billions on its Starship missile program and satellite broadband service, Bankruptcy was not impossible.

Elon Musk said Tesla has struggled to increase production at the Texas manufacturing facility that opened earlier this year.


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Susan Cordero/AFP/Getty Images

The businessman said he visited a company launch site in Texas after a fiery explosion Monday under one of the company’s Super Heavy boosters. Those high-rise vehicles support the Starship missile system, which Mr. Musk said Space Exploration Technologies Corp., as it’s officially known, plans to use it on its most ambitious mission, including a possible human trip to Mars.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is also counting on a version of the spacecraft to carry astronauts to the lunar surface by 2025.

“Yeah, it’s actually not good,” the master. Musk wrote on Twitter In response to the explosion, saying the SpaceX team was assessing the damage. He added that the base of the booster appeared to be intact, despite SpaceX closing the launchpad for safety reasons. Later, he tweeted: “It looks like the damage is minor, but we need to check all the engines.”

Jeffrey Hoffman, an MIT professor of aeronautical engineering and a former astronaut, said SpaceX is facing significant hurdles in developing Starship, including showing that the engines assembled under its superheavy boosters are able to operate as designed. “The parallel operation of 33 rocket engines at the same time is important,” he said, referring to the design.

SpaceX, along with other satellite companies, has also been embroidered in a regulatory battle against the Dish Network. corp.

Others, such as the Federal Communications Commission, are studying new rules for the radio frequencies used to carry their signals.

SpaceX rebounded after a Falcon 9 rocket exploded in Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 2016, destroying a Facebook satellite.


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US launch report // Reuters

High inflation is taking its toll on both Tesla and SpaceX, Mr. Musk said. Some Tesla suppliers of parts are asking for a 20%-30% increase over last year. Musk said in April, when the company reported record quarterly earnings.

Meanwhile, some SpaceX employees signed a letter raising concerns and frustration about the CEO’s recent public statements and behavior, calling them an embarrassment and distraction. The company has fired at least some of the employees involved in this effort. Gwen Shotwell, president of SpaceX, said the letter distracted and angered many employees.

the master. Musk is also the founder of Boring Co. , a tunneling company, and Neuralink Corp. , a startup in the field of neuroscience working on brain implant technologies. He sometimes lamented the workload that had assigned him to him. “It would be nice to have more free time on my hands, rather than just working day and night from when I wake up to sleep seven days a week. It’s pretty intense,” he said last year during a Tesla analyst briefing.

Deep business challenges at Tesla and SpaceX are nothing new for Mr. musk. The automaker almost broke up in 2018, mr. Musk said it’s struggling to increase production of its Model 3 sedan, the car that helped transform Tesla from a niche company into a mass-market automaker. the master. Musk at one point slept on the factory floor at what was then the company’s only automobile plant in the United States, in Fremont, California, to work through what he called “production hell.”

Once these issues were overcome, Tesla’s stock began to skyrocket which helped turn Mr. Musk became the richest man in the world and lined the company’s coffers. Tesla was sitting on about $17.5 billion in cash as of the first quarter.

SpaceX has dealt closely with setbacks in its business before. For example, one of the company’s Falcon 9 rockets exploded during a test in 2016, destroying a Facebook satellite. At the time, it was the second disastrous failure of such a launch in 15 months. The company has made adjustments and refunds. Four years later, it launched two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, or ISS, the first launch for humans into orbit from American soil since the agency’s last shuttle mission in 2011.

the master. Musk’s business has achieved notable successes in recent months. In addition to its record profits earlier in the year, Tesla announced its highest-ever production of cars in June, with production at the Shanghai plant recovering. That month, NASA said it planned to lease SpaceX to handle five additional manned flights to the International Space Station, a plan that would add to the nine flights the agency has already secured under a contract worth about $3.5 billion.

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SpaceX also regularly launches satellites into orbit for US commercial customers and spy agencies, while satellite internet company Starlink recently won regulatory approval to provide service for planes, boats and recreational vehicles.

Tesla’s stock price is down more than 40% from its November high, but the company’s $737 billion valuation as of Wednesday was still higher than the next eight automakers combined. This year, SpaceX’s valuation has reached around $125 billion after having raised more than $1.7 billion, surpassing the value of more established aerospace companies Boeing. a company

Lockheed Martin corp.

write to Rebecca Elliott at rebecca.elliott@wsj.com and Micah Maidenberg at micah.maidenberg@wsj.com

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