Great Discussion on Bloomberg TV About SpaceX, Commercial Space

39 Comments

Video Caption: Dec. 4 (Bloomberg) –- On today’s “Regnomix,” Former NASA Astronaut Leroy Chiao, Space Adventures President Tom Shelley and Bloomberg’s Cory Johnson discuss Spacex’s successful launch of a satellite and the future of private space travel. They speak with Trish Regan and Adam Johnson on Bloomberg Television’s “Street Smart.” (Source: Bloomberg)

EDITOR’S NOTE: An interesting little revelation here that SpaceX is not profitable, but it is cash flow positive. This is something I have long wondered about. The relatively small number of launches plus a large surge in the number of employees has left me puzzled about how the company funds its operations. NASA funding has helped with commercial crew and cargo. So has taking deposits on a large number of future satellite launches. There’s also probably been some additional private investment.

The other part is keeping costs low. SpaceX employees work brutal hours; 50 to 70+ hours per week seems to be normal there. The company also hires a number of long-term temporary workers who work the same type of hours but received none of the benefits of full-time employees. No health coverage, no vacation or sick days, no stock options. All this is pretty normal for Silicon Valley, whose culture Musk has imported into SpaceX. However, this type of work schedule also results in burn-out and higher turnover rates. One wonders how long they can sustain it.

39 Responses to “Great Discussion on Bloomberg TV About SpaceX, Commercial Space”


  1. 1 Robert Horning

    First of all, the SES-8 was not the first commercial payload for SpaceX.

    I also love the comparison saying that “launching people and launching commercial payloads is completely different”. Is it?

    The other thing is speculating that the number of commercial payloads is actually going to contract over the next few years. That may be true for geosynchronous orbit telecommunications satellites, which admittedly is a bit portion of the commercial space launch market. None the less, I am curious about what growth potential may exist for commercial payloads besides the telecom sector (including LEO constellations).

    It is just funny as all get out to see somebody trying to defend SLS after the success that SpaceX has been enjoying.

  2. 2 Hug Doug

    Just keep in mind that SpaceX wasn’t a factor at all when the SLS was designed and contracted out to be built. they’ve only been launching the Falcon 9 since 2010. they’ve racked up a string of nice successes, but that wasn’t true even a year and a half ago.

  3. 3 Robert Horning

    In terms of profitability of SpaceX, Elon Musk has already addressed this in the past as of when he first announced that SpaceX was profitable. Essentially, SpaceX has been required by standard accounting rules and what he reports to the IRS to take amortized payments for upcoming flights as income. In other words, much of what is on the existing manifest in terms of flights (including down payments) has already been counted toward profitability.

    That does imply SpaceX needs to get those payloads up into the sky in terms of maintaining profitability, but I think it is wrong to simply be so dismissive as was done in this video. It is more than simply cash-flow positive.

    None the less, SpaceX has also been growing as a company… at the end of the last flight, it was announced that SpaceX has over 3,000 employees. They have also been investing substantially in capital purchases including a fair bit of land in Texas (reported earlier on this website… none of that is really news), of course upgrading the launch facilities on two other launch sites (KSC & Vandenberg), and I’ve seen comments remarking at how much has changed at the Hawthorn plant.

    None of that is cheap, but at the same time I think it is disingenuous and even lousy reportage to suggest that SpaceX is actually broke and just barely getting by. That they are reinvesting any cash reserves into capital purchases should be apparent, and I do remember a somewhat recent interview of Elon Musk suggesting that he has no need for any further rounds of capital fundraising at the moment.

    As for the temporary workers, it is now standard practice among most larger companies (especially Silicon Valley companies as you mention) to hire temporary workers as a sort of recruitment program to try them out before offering them permanent employment. Rather than condemning SpaceX for this practice (which you would find in any rapidly growing company), it is more of an issue with general employment law in America and the rather rough environment that any business must go through at the moment.

  4. 4 Brainerd

    The NASA authorization bill of 2010 wasn’t signed until October 11, 2010 and the appropriations bill in the form of a continuing resolution wasn’t signed until April 15th 2011 you i diot, well after the first Falcon 9 flight. Your SLS and Orion apologetics is starting to look real stupid.

  5. 5 ٩๏̯͡๏۶

    Keep it cordial – this site ain’t the youtube comments section.. =/

  6. 6 Douglas Messier

    Please just point out where you think he’s wrong, Brain Guy.

  7. 7 Brainerd

    Oh, screw you. This is a national NASA travesty of the highest order. Elon announced the Heavy on April 4, 2011 and his comments on May 4th, 2011 are well documented – even in my NIAC 2011 submission on May 16th. He had already demonstrated the basic launcer and capsule in two flights.

    This problem lies squarely on NASA and Boeing. Congress are mere pawns in this. They’re too stupid to be anything else. I can’t believe how gullible you people are in thinking that people who understand what happened here would let Doug’s comments stand without some sort of comeback. His arguments are at the creationist level compared to reality.

  8. 8 Robert Gishubl

    The issue is that it is now 2013 the evidence since 2010 is that Falcon 9 is a reliable rocket with potential dramatically cut the cost of space access. SpaceX and Orbital but to a less extent have shown private companies can provide reliable and cheaper access to space. Also the evidence from the early Grasshopper tests as well as SpaceX learnings from Falcon 1 transfering to Falcon 9 showed SpaceX can develop its capabilites safely and reasonable reliably.
    This objective evidence has not been accepted by the SLS/Orion crowd. If SLS is not just pork they would have accepted that Falcon Heavy and Dragon could do anything so far envisaged for SLS/Orion at a fraction of the cost and far sooner. Perhaps some mission designs would require more launches with FH than SLS but the cost difference is well worth it. There is no issue of not being able to use existing deep space modules built for SLS launch because there are none as all the money is going to SLS rather than exploration hardware.
    Although I agree with some points raised by Brainerd re the timing of bill signing the personal slagging is not appropriate and detracts from the actual message.

  9. 9 Robert Gishubl

    One point they completely miss wrt numberof upcomming launches is that as the price drops for access to space more business will be viable so generating more launch bussiness. In addition once the first stage is re-usable to cost will drop even more making even more business opportunities possible so futher increasing launch requrements.
    The point about launching people and satelites was confusing, was e refering t launching people sub orbital and satlites into orbit ie Branson v SpaceX in which case completely acurate comment or the diference between carg Dragon and crewed dragon he is way off the mark. There are differences between pople and cargo but not that many from the rocket point of view however there is a big difference between orbital and suborbital lfight.

  10. 10 Robert Horning

    What I can’t stand is the current narrative being thrown around that concedes that commercial spaceflight companies like Orbital and SpaceX are certainly capable of sending stuff to LEO, but anything else still needs a rocket like the SLS… even go so far as to infer (even if not directly said) that only the SLS can put anything up into space beyond the Moon… as if the SLS has some sort of divine grant of exclusivity.

    This most recent flight by SpaceX to put something into GEO should at least start to chip away at that invulnerability of the SLS and shows that SpaceX can certainly put stuff into deep space. The Falcon Heavy is going to be the real nail in the coffin on that point though. Even the most well connected lobbyist is going to have some difficulties when that launcher starts to fly.

  11. 11 therealdmt

    Stay classy, San Diego!

  12. 12 bombayrefugee

    You don’t win arguments with insults. Basic politeness here, please.

  13. 13 mfck

    Comparing Musk to Branson is just funny. Sir Richard looses that comparison at any angle except for, maybe, good looks and chevalliery. And the amount of noise produced.

  14. 14 therealdmt

    Sir Richard wins in the “Most fantastic hair” category, “Coolest company name and logo” category, and in the “Most time spent in development” and “Worst abuse of the word ‘soon’ ” categories.

  15. 15 Michael Vaicaitis

    “”launching people and launching commercial payloads is completely different”. Is it?”
    You got that right. It’s like saying a car with a passenger in the back seat is completely different to a car with a parcel on the back seat – so many of these “commentators” are idiots.

    “I am curious about what growth potential may exist for commercial payloads besides the telecom sector”

    Again, quite so. All talk of how sustainable or not is the market for launching comsats is stupid and irrelevant. Reusable launch systems will lower the cost of access to space so much that a revolution of business opportunity will emerge. The low intellect short-sightedness of some of these people is breathtaking. It’s like someone back in the sixties saying “OK, so they can add up numbers really quickly, but what else can computers be used for?”.

  16. 16 Brainerd

    but anything else still needs a rocket like the SLS

    That’s an insanely stupid statement. SLS end up in the ocean. SpaceX has just sent an upper stage past GTO. They will have proved that utterly wrong before the SLS ever flied.

  17. 17 Brainerd

    There is nothing classy about Mo Brooks. I’ll pass on classy.

  18. 18 Brainerd

    I’m not here to win any arguments. How can you win when they encode their idiotic beliefs into law?

  19. 19 Michael Vaicaitis

    Comparing Branson to Musk as an engineer or technologist is not a useful or fair comparison. Perhaps Branson to Bezos would be more appropriate.
    Musk’s penchant for engineering gives him an advantage of others when it comes to technical decision making. However, when it comes to build a running highly successful businesses, Branson should not be underestimated. The duration and diversity of markets over which he has been able to be successful requires at least some degree of respect. If he is enthusiastic enough and long-sighted enough to invest in, and generate investment in, progress towards a space faring civilisation, then the best of luck to him.

  20. 20 prime8one

    It’s a real shame that VG has been making such slow technical progress. I don’t think it’s really their fault except perhaps in making the decision to use a hybrid rocket in the first place. It was a bold move and somewhat of a gamble, with potential to pay off, but it appears that it hasn’t.

    If they had started with a liquid rocket, they may already have been flying customers. It’s going to be great to see what Branson can do with the company once they finally get a product out.

    In an even more speculative direction, what could we have today if a few years ago Branson had somehow worked a deal to combine the liquid rocket engineering of XCOR, the airframe expertise of Scaled/Rutan, and his own marketing abilities?

  21. 21 Douglas Messier

    A big question in the video is how does SpaceX keep its Falcon 9 costs so low. Well, here’s part of the answer: temps without benefits. Lowers cost for SpaceX. I’m guessing that ULA and Arianespace have mostly f/t workers. If they use contractors, those workers have benefits through those
    companies.

    What does that mean? What are the implications? Is it sustainable?

    My understanding is these temps are long term working very long hours on sophisticated hardware. It’s a bit different from temps working with software and support functions in Silicon Valley and then either getting hired on or moving to another company to do something similar.

    There are legitimate questions as to how long you can have temps working 70 hour with no benefits on complicated hardware that has to work the first time. What does that do to efficiency long term? Do they start making mistakes? How motivated can they be if they don’t have a stake in the company? What sort of turnover rate that does produce? What happens if they get burned out, but don’t have time to do the logical thing and look for another job? Are the f/t people getting burned out and leaving as well? (Answer: some of them are.)

    All good questions. It’s easier to throw up one’s hands and blame the system (if we could only change the general employment laws) than address the actual issues this practice raises. The obvious question is, if the company is profitable, why not hire enough f/t people to do the job and ease off on the hours that people work?

  22. 22 Nickolai

    Very good questions, and I’ll add one more. These temps are likely making some pretty key decisions, and when they get burnt out and leave, they take all that knowledge with them. SpaceX has often prided itself on how quickly they operate, but that’s easy when the people working with the hardware are the ones who designed it. When you’re working with something you didn’t design and build and test and put through its paces, you’ll move slower because you don’t know how it works. We may already be seeing this with SES-8. A couple times they got an abort after ignition and waited a few days to recover – after the second attempt even bringing the rocket back into the hanger for boroscoping. Every time they got an abort at ignition before they recycled the count and launched within a matter of hours. Granted, those launches had larger windows, but I believe my point remains. So the question I’m getting is how will this practice affect quality in the long term as knowledgeable people leave?

  23. 23 Ven

    A

  24. 24 Ven

    As the editor notes, and as a former employee SPACEX was not a ‘fun’ place to work at. How many of the people that worked on the latest Falcon rocket are still amongst those cheering at Spacex HQ during a mission?

    But i can leave that there. What they are trying to do is…..to use an old phrase ‘a sign of the current times’. For instance in the past much of the space travel technology was new and untested so NACA,NASA and the astronaut corps dragged many of these manufacturers through the ringer (inspections, opened their books to audits – engineering calcs etc, testing etc) to get them to build something that would be considered sufficiently safe and reliable and as a result many of the current launch vehicle are certainly too expensive for use to launch MTV satellites or whatever. So it appears with Spacex that in much desperation to have a domestic launch vehicle many of these checks and balances have been removed and the sole requirement for certification seems to be a fixed number of successful flights. Subsequently astronauts and professionals in the field have been de-lionized and replaced with pools of graduate students cranking out drawings and designs with minimal experience with NASA and Aerospace Corp and other comps in the back providing some directional guidance with their experienced engineers most of which is ‘off the books’. Obviously the relationship to cost is directly proportional to the requirements of the strictest customer and so reducing requirements to certification and acceptance reduces NRE (engineering costs)

    If the requirements to get accepted by the airforce and nasa were reduced for all parties concerned you would no doubt see Boeing, Lockheed, NGC cranking out rockets similar to Spacex in short order. However would politicians or the public tolerate a loss of 3-4 rockets from a cheap Boeing design as opposed to a Spacex design.

    Infact (my two cents here) i can see some opportunities for other companies that could design spacecraft even cheaper than spacex by avoiding some of their engineering waste that comes from taking very rudimentary requirements/loads and over-analyzing them with latest software and tools (which millenials tend to do…for pretty pictures) which would otherwise be much faster using closed form or hand calcs.

    And also it would great if the amount of ‘off the books’ help afforded to Spacex was somehow made public because in the grand scheme of things its not whether the first fully-support private enterprise ‘makes it’ with all its government support but how the 10th enterprise succeeds without any of these aids and with the incumbents readily established.(e.g as hegemony is a human instinct it seems whats to stop Spacex from riding its initial goodwill to a point of dominance, closing the door to commercial space for anyone else.)

    Also and this is more a jovial personal note, i wish everytime some feat of the past was repeated with the tag line (“first commercial”) they would have to acknowledge past exploits in what i term the ‘boredom tax’. That is each time we replay an accomplishment from the past the boredom tax should be invoked.

    example:
    1) First astronaut up in Spacex capsule – boring, see Yuri Gagarin. If you want to impress us how about a space walk on the same mission
    2) First spacewalk by Spacex astronaut – boring, see Alexei Leonov. How about more than one astronaut from the capsule simultaneously space walking un tethered.
    get what i mean – we tend to just repeat the same old same old and slap “first time by a commercial space entity after the title.

    We already owe an apology to next generation of kids by still relying on chemical rockets to lift stuff least we dont have to rub their noses in it and try to trick them into thinking its the first time around doing all this stuff….

  25. 25 Robert Horning

    The larger question to your question is if those temporary workers are being kept on temporary status strictly to keep wages low, or is there a large temporary work force in place because SpaceX is having a hard time even finding competent people to fill their staff positions in the first place? The current employment laws in place, particularly with the Affordable Healthcare Act and numerous other federal employment laws, make hiring somebody on permanent staff to be a rather substantial investment that should not be casually dismissed. I have a couple of close friends who are small business owners who have been forced into laying people off this past year and reducing the hours on many of their staff members in part to comply with these new employment regulations that have been imposed from the federal government alone. California also has some tougher state-level laws that pile on top of those federal laws as well. Once those workers are hired, it takes nearly an act of God to get them fired with all of the anti-discrimination lawsuits that can pile on or at least job security reviews that happen with dismissal. There certainly is some reluctance any most large companies right now to put people on permanent staff under any conditions… and this is not just restricted to SpaceX but almost every large company.

    I don’t know how a large company with 3k employees stays in business at all, much less turns a profit with all of the requirements… shy of having a permanent lobbying group in DC and the respective state capitals (which SpaceX definitely does) that tries to grant themselves exceptions and screw over ordinary taxpayers with their favorite fairy god-senators. Even then it is hard to do, and even harder for a growing company that doesn’t have these political connections down very well simply because they are the new kid on the block.

    Regardless, I don’t know of any company who deliberately pushes employees to work for 70 hours per week unless they are simply very short handed and can’t find the skilled workers that they really need. Half of the time it is simply getting people to show up on time for work and doesn’t smoke weed on the job. I’m not saying that former employees are lazy or got caught with a drug screening, but I am saying finding people with a good work ethic is not nearly so easy, particularly for a company which is growing by the hundreds each year along with needing to replace those who left for various other reasons. Recruitment of quality workers is much harder than simply putting out a sign “help wanted”.

    In addition to the above legal morass, another question about temporary workers is also if there is a long term need for SpaceX to have the large pool of temporary workers. How much of the assembly line is being automated, thus will no longer need so much labor to hand-build things? Does SpaceX have the long-term backlog of orders needed to keep the huge staff on the books, or is that going to disappear? As you suggested, how many of those temp workers are in critical positions that really should be permanent staff positions, or are they really filling in places that can eventually be eliminated?

    The criticism here is also directed to SpaceX, but it should also be noted that SpaceX is employing people in California and not Russia or even China & India where minimum wage is less than $1/hour and working conditions are far worse than what would be considered hellish conditions for an American. It is really all that different at the other aerospace companies, even in America? I don’t buy the argument that SpaceX is building these cheap rockets on the backs of ignorant and poorly compensated aerospace workers of Los Angeles County instead of the well compensated employees of ULA as the only reason for the cheaper launch prices.

  26. 26 Hug Doug

    SpaceX is doing very well. I was skeptical about their ability to do what they said they would like to do, but they convinced me otherwise after the engine-out mission performed so well.

    I’m not sure that the success of the Falcon Heavy will be able to convince congress to nix development of the SLS, if the price drops dramatically with the ability to re-use the 1st stage cores, cost savings alone might force that issue. but since when has the government ever done things cheaply and efficiently? it’s still kind of a toss-up in my skeptical mind. i suspect that we’ll get at least one or two launches of the SLS.

    my main point still stands, though. the SLS program started before SpaceX was a factor, and it really only has to become a factor in the minds of the appropriations committee if that’s going to change.

  27. 27 Aerospike

    So much bitterness…
    I think I’ve never read a less concise comment on PA before. The only red thread is that you seem to lament about just about anything, even if it doesn’t make sense.

    Your (indirect) praise for “the old ways” for example and how SpaceX is producing “lesser” rockets.

    Yeah you are right… I totally forgot about how totally safe the Space Shuttle has been…

  28. 28 therealdmt

    Good points. He deserves a lot of respect, actually – and I wish him all the luck in the world with Virgin Galactic too.

    It sure hasn’t unfolded quite like he’d first laid it out though, at least schedule-wise, so it’s been frustrating. Musk truly has passed him by (and dramatically so) in the space business, but Branson’s still in second place I’d say — which is a lot more than I can say for myself.

  29. 29 Douglas Messier

    You read a lot into my comments that is not there. You automatically assume I’m attacking SpaceX and that the company must be defended. I’m simply looking at how they actually operate and wondering if it’s sustainable over the long haul.

    Ultimately, the question is whether SpaceX transitions to
    another approach down the road (more employees working fewer hours, fewer long-term temps) or can maintain the way it’s doing things now.

    I did not say it was the ONLY reason for cheaper launch prices. I said it is part of the answer.

    I didn’t say they were ignorant workers or even necessarily poorly paid. But, compensation is not just measured by take-home pay but by benefits. If you’re a long term temp, the benefits are not there.

    I really don’t know what happens if they manage to reuse Falcon 9 rockets 10 times or more. I would imagine the number of production and manufacturing employees would stabilize at some point or even be reduced. There would be a shift toward more people launching the rockets and processing them for re-flight. How many would depend on the flight rates they achieve and the orders they get.

  30. 30 Douglas Messier

    I’m not sure this is bitterness. I have heard enough about SpaceX to know it can be a tough place to work, with very long hours and a very tough boss in Elon Musk. I know people who love it over there. But, I also know that people have left for various reasons.

    You missed the point a bit on the rocket development. The space shuttle is not a very good comparison here. Falcon 9 is more comparable to the EELV and other expendables.

    ULA has had 76 successful launches in a row with only a handful of anomalies. The companies that formed ULA — Boeing and Lockheed Martin — have excellent records. You know the last time they had a catastrophic failure of any rocket named Delta? 1997. I kid you not. Sixteen years. You have to go back to 1993 for the last catastrophic failure of any rocket named Atlas.

    Those guys are very good at what they do. Look at Arianespace and their record is very clean. The Chinese Long March series is also very reliable. All rockets built using what might be called more traditional contracting approaches.

    ULA and Arianespace are expensive, that is for sure. That’s an advantage SpaceX has over them. Falcon 9 will need more flights to equal reliability.

  31. 31 Eric Thiel

    Some people just don’t want to abandon the old space contractors like boeing

  32. 32 Hug Doug

    “some people” being members of congress lol too true. although Boeing is pretty good at what it does, too.

  33. 33 Brainerd

    Your point only holds among ignorant uninformed newbies like yourself who either weren’t paying attention or weren’t even a space cadet when these events transpired a whole two and a half years ago. You aren’t fooling or convincing anyone but yourself. This shit was clear as a bell as far back as ESAS.

  34. 34 ٩๏̯͡๏۶

    Attack the argument not the person.

  35. 35 Robert Clark

    Good point. In fact studies have shown that SpaceshipTwo itself without the WhiteknightTwo carrier craft could be suborbital if hydrogen fueled.

    Bob Clark

  36. 36 Aerospike

    Well of course I can’t be sure about the bitterness either, but from reading Ven’s post I got the feeling there was a lot of frustration involved on his side.

    Just to be clear: I’m not trying to defend SpaceXs hiring policies or general work policies, ethics etc. here! I simply know as much as nothing about it, just various rumours, so even if I wanted to, I could not.

    However, I admit I didn’t really like the repeated mention of the “off the book” help from NASA. What is that supposed to mean anyway? That this help isn’t documented internally as “advice from NASA”? I don’t really see what that would improve? I’m sure it can’t mean that SpaceX is keeping that a secret, because Elon Musk has stressed this point at pretty much any single COTS/CRS press conference so far (and various other, non NASA interviews as well), that SpaceX would not be where they are now without the help of NASA.

    Also, there are a few problems when comparing companies and/or organizations that have been around for vastly different time spans. I really don’t know how to put all this into a concise, easy to read piece of text, so I’ll just try to point out a few things that come to mind and should be considered imho:

    First of all, comparing someone with a huge track record against the “new kid on the block” will always be problematic. Depending on your personal interests you might choose the “old guys” for your payload because of their proven reliability, but that doesn’t mean the “new guys” will be less reliable, simply that their reliability is not yet known. We have to wait and see.

    Yes, ULA has a very impressive track record and I applaud them for it. On the other hand, they are so expensive, that they basically have zero market share outside of government launches. And while before competition from SpaceX and co. came along, they didn’t really where on the front of innovation either.

    Arianespace/ESA has also been very reliable (although not as reliable as ULA, Ariane 5 alone had 2 partial failures and two catastrophic failures), but they are arguably a lot cheaper than ULA, otherwise they wouldn’t have been the “king of the hill” of GTO launches for such a long time.
    But is their contracting approach really comparable to the EELV program (not to speak of “pure” NASA projects like STS, the Saturn program, etc.)? Do we even have enough data to compare them?

    Speaking of contracting approach: can we really compare the Chinese program to European and American rocket development?

    What about the Russians? Aren’t they also operating on this “more traditional approaches”? Why don’t you mention them as well? Their track record surely does not speak in favor of the traditional ways. Of course they have their own, different set of problems with the nature of their aerospace sector.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is this:

    SpaceX has caused quite a stir and so far they have shown that they can provide the same kind of services as others, but at greatly reduced cost.

    And Yes, I fully agree that they now have to prove that they can sustain their prices, continue to prove they are reliable, prove that they can keep the pace of innovation and development going, etc.

    But so far there isn’t really any sign to ring any alarm bells and I think that there is far too much speculation about what SpaceX can and can’t do, and they also receive (imho) a lot more criticism from people that should know better, than what is warranted.

    Case in point, back to Ven’s comment: on one hand he criticises that they do things in ways that are less strict about rules and requirements than what he was previously used to, and in the next paragraph he laments that they tend to over-analyse things (supposedly because of the nature of the younger workforce…).
    And on top of that he is bored by the “commercial firsts” SpaceX achieved because thy are just repeats of things already achieved by governments and suggest they do more ambitious “firsts”, that would dramatically increase the risk of something going wrong because way to many systems would see their first operational use at the same time…
    That is a really, really unreasonable suggestion.

    So I stand by my previous comment: his arguments were not very concise and even contradicted themselves in some points.

  37. 37 windbourne

    Doug, start ups are always a lot of work esp. when you are burning cash, employees are paid low AND a big part of your FUTURE salary/benefits is tied to stock options.
    All of the employees are earning those options waiting to make it big in about 3-5 years. And the majority of contractors are hoping to make employee.

    As to 50-70 hours, as a one-time, long-time contract software engineer, I consider those fairly normal hours. And once they have true production going on the F9 (which is in the next couple of months), I suspect that most of this will become routine (in fact, MUST become routine) and the majority of employees will revert to putting in a normal 40-50 hours/week.

    OTOH, those that chose to work on dragon rider, and/or grass hopper, and/or raptor, and/or MCT, and almost certainly a tug and fuel-depot, will be putting in a lot of hours BY CHOICE. After all, they are not just getting paid, but they are creating a future. That is a STRONG incentive for MANY MANY ppl.

  38. 38 Douglas Messier

    Good perspective. Thank you for posting.

  39. 39 jstults

    I hadn’t thought much about this until you said it:

    I would imagine the number of production and manufacturing employees would stabilize at some point or even be reduced. There would be a shift toward more people launching the rockets and processing them for re-flight.

    I would bet that as a launch services company they would be significantly more profitable than as a rocket manufacturing company.

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