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According to two people familiar with the situation, SpaceX dismissed at least five employees after it was discovered that they had written and disseminated a letter criticizing founder Elon Musk and urging officials to make the company’s culture more inclusive.
According to three employees with knowledge of the matter, SpaceX fired personnel linked with the letter with knowledge of the matter. It didn’t say how many employees were fired.
According to the New York Times, SpaceX’s President Gwynne Shotwell wrote an email stating that the business has investigated and “removed a number of personnel engaged” with the letter.
According to Shotwell’s email, employees engaged in the distribution of the letter had been fired for making other employees feel “uncomfortable, intimidated, and harassed, and/or upset since the letter encouraged them to sign onto something that did not reflect their views.”
Musk, a billionaire, is pursuing a $44 billion bid for Twitter and has stated his support for looser speech regulations on the platform. He told Twitter workers on Thursday that the platform should allow “quite absurd things” as long as the content isn’t illegal.
Musk is a “distraction and humiliation” to the firm he founded, according to a SpaceX letter reviewed by Reuters, titled “an open letter to the Executives of SpaceX.”
“SpaceX must promptly and explicitly distance itself from Elon Musk’s personal brand,” “hold all leadership equally accountable to making SpaceX a fantastic place to work for everyone,” and “define and uniformly respond to all forms of inappropriate behavior,” according to a list of three requests.
Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla Inc., has been in the news and featured in late-night comedy monologues in recent months for a variety of reasons, including his attempt to take over Twitter, his criticism of Democrats, and a reported charge of sexual harassment, which Musk rejected in a tweet.
According to a source familiar with the subject who asked not to be identified, the open letter at SpaceX was produced by SpaceX employees in recent weeks and posted as an attachment in an internal “Morale Boosters” group chat that brings together thousands of personnel.
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 routine 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 on staff harassment.
SpaceX, founded by Musk in 2002, has played a key role in the United States space program, becoming the only business capable of sending NASA personnel into space from American soil and announcing plans to take humans to the moon for NASA within the next decade.
SpaceX is also one of two businesses on which the Pentagon relies to launch the majority of military and espionage satellites into space.