At least five employees at the private rocket company SpaceX were terminated after it was discovered that they had written and distributed a letter criticizing the company’s founder, Elon Musk, and urging executives to make the company’s culture more inclusive.
Reuters reached out to SpaceX for comment, but the company did not immediately respond. On Thursday, the New York Times published an article claiming that SpaceX had terminated the employment of individuals who were linked with the letter. The article cited three employees who had knowledge of the incident. It had not provided any specific information regarding the number of employees who had been fired.
According to the New York Times, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell sent out an email in which she stated that the business had conducted an investigation and “terminated a number of employees involved” with the letter.
According to the newspaper, an email sent by Shotwell stated that employees who participated in the circulation of the letter had been terminated for making other members of the staff feel “uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied, and/or angry because the letter pressured them to sign onto something that did not reflect their views”.
Musk, a billionaire who is reportedly interested in making a bid for Twitter worth $44 billion, has made it apparent that he favors looser limitations on speech on the network. On Thursday, he communicated to the staff of Twitter that the platform ought to allow “pretty outrageous things,” provided that the information in question does not violate any laws.
According to a letter sent to SpaceX executives with the heading “an open letter to the Executives of SpaceX,” the firm that Musk established is suffering from “distraction and embarrassment” because of Musk.
In a list of three demands, it stated that “SpaceX must swiftly and explicitly separate itself from Elon’s personal brand,” “hold all leadership equally accountable to making SpaceX a great place to work for everyone,” and “define and uniformly respond to all forms of unacceptable behavior.”
Musk, who is also the head of electric automaker Tesla Inc., has been in the headlines and featured in late-night comedy monologues in recent months. This has been the case for a number of reasons, including his attempt to take control of Twitter, his criticism of Democrats, and a reported allegation of sexual harassment, which Musk has denied in a Twitter post.
A person who is familiar with the situation but does not wish to be named said that the open letter at SpaceX, which was first reported by The Verge, was drafted by employees at SpaceX in recent weeks and shared as an attachment in an internal “Morale Boosters” group chat that brings together thousands of employees. This person asked not to be named.
Musk, who is also the chief engineer of the company, is widely regarded as a pivotal figure in many of SpaceX’s high-profile accomplishments, including being a pioneer in the re-use of orbital rocket boosters and resuming routine human spaceflight from the United States of America after a hiatus of nine years.
Shotwell, who oversees a significant portion of the day-to-day operations of the company, has stated that she will uphold SpaceX’s “zero tolerance” policy regarding the harassment of staff members.
SpaceX is a private aerospace company that was established in 2002 by Elon Musk. Since its inception, SpaceX has become an integral part of the United States space program. It is currently the only company that is able to send NASA astronauts into space from the United States, and it has ambitious plans to send humans to the moon for NASA within the next ten years.
SpaceX is also one of the two businesses that the Pentagon relies on to launch into orbit the majority of the United States military and intelligence satellites. This responsibility falls on SpaceX.