According to two people who are familiar with the situation, SpaceX dismissed at least five employees after it was discovered that they had created and shared a letter criticizing founder Elon Musk and encouraging officials to make the company’s culture more inclusive.
A request for comment from Reuters was not immediately returned.
According to three employees with knowledge of the matter, SpaceX fired personnel linked to the letter with knowledge of the matter. However, it had not specified the number of people who had been fired.
According to the New York Times, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell wrote an email indicating the business had investigated and “removed several personnel engaged” with the letter.
Employees engaged in the distribution of the letter were fired, according to Shotwell’s email, for making other employees feel “uncomfortable, intimidated, and harassed, and/or furious since the letter encouraged them to sign onto something that did not reflect their views.”
Billionaire Elon Musk is making a $44 billion bid for Twitter and has stated his support for looser speech rules on the platform. He told Twitter staff on Thursday that as long as the content isn’t illegal, the company should allow “quite outlandish things.”
According to Reuters, Musk is a “distraction and shame” to the firm he started, according to a SpaceX letter titled “an open letter to the Executives of SpaceX.”
“SpaceX must promptly and openly distance 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 inappropriate behavior,” it stated in a list of three requests.
Musk, also the CEO of Tesla Inc., has been in the news recently for various reasons, including his attempt to take over Twitter, his criticism of Democrats, and a reported charge of sexual harassment, which Musk has rejected in a Twitter post.
According to a source familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified, the open letter at SpaceX was produced by employees in recent weeks and posted as an attachment in an internal “Morale Boosters” group chat that brings together thousands of staff.
Musk, who also serves as the company’s chief engineer, has been credited with many of SpaceX’s high-profile achievements, including pioneering the reuse of orbital rocket boosters and resuming regular human spaceflight from American soil after a nine-year break.
Shotwell oversees much of the company’s day-to-day operations and has stated that she will uphold SpaceX’s “zero tolerance” policy for workplace harassment.
Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 and has played a key part in the United States space program, becoming the only business capable of sending NASA personnel into space from American soil and promising to take humans to the moon for NASA within the next decade.
SpaceX is also one of two businesses that the Pentagon relies on to launch the majority of US military and intelligence satellites into space.