LOS ANGELES: SpaceX plans to lay off 10 percent of its more than 6,000 employees, a source familiar with the decision said on Friday.
“To continue delivering for our customers and to succeed in developing interplanetary spacecraft and a global space-based Internet, SpaceX must become a leaner company,” the California-based company, headed by Elon Musk, said in a statement.
“Either of these developments, even when attempted separately, have bankrupted other organizations,” it added.
“This means we must part ways with some talented and hardworking members of our team.”
It added that the trim down was “only due to the extraordinarily difficult challenges ahead.”
Citing an email sent to employees on Friday, the Los Angeles Times said the company was offering those affected a minimum of eight weeks’ pay and other benefits, including career coaching and resume assistance.
The announcement came as SpaceX on Friday launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California carrying 10 communications satellites.
Founded by Musk, SpaceX makes most of its money from multibillion dollar contracts with NASA and satellite launches.
SpaceX in November won authorization from US officials to put nearly 12,000 satellites into orbit in order to boost cheap, wireless internet access by the 2020s.
The Wall Street Journal reported last month that the company was raising $500 million from investors to help launch its satellite internet service.
Twitter rolls out ‘subscribe to conversations’ feature
CALIFORNIA: Twitter has rolled out a new tool allowing users to follow conversations without liking or replying to them.
A software engineer, Jane Manchung, discovered the prototype in the Android version of the app, Engadget reported. She tweeted about it and Twitter said in response that it was done to make the platform more conversational.
A button has been added to the top right corner of the thread, which notifies you when additional tweets happen. It would bring anonymity to the app.
A chronological timeline tool had been added to the Android version of the app and Twitter is also testing an “original tweeter” label, which shows the account that started a thread.
Sarah Haider, director of product management, said earlier this year that the company is making “some pretty big changes to the way conversations look and feel on Twitter” but they don’t want to introduce everything at once.
We can expect a lot more changes in the future, with the rapid new features rolling out every month.
Russia’s Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft docks to ISS
MOSCOW: The Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft carrying three crew members successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos said.
Soyuz MS-12 docked with the Rassvet module at 04:01 Moscow time (0101 GMT), Roscosmos said in a press release.
A Soyuz-FG rocket carrying the spacecraft blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 22:14 Moscow time (1914 GMT) on Thursday.
Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague, who survived unscathed an aborted launch in October 2018, as well as NASA astronaut Christina Koch, are on board the spacecraft.
Their mission will last 204 days. On March 29, Koch, together with another ISS crew member Anne McClain, who arrived at the ISS on Dec. 3 last year, will perform the first-ever all-female spacewalk.
Russian cosmonauts are scheduled to conduct a spacewalk in May.
3 astronauts on Soyuz craft successfully reach ISS
BAIKONUR (Kazakhstan): A Russian cosmonaut and two US astronauts arrived Friday at the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, five months after the failed launch of a rocket carrying two of the passengers.
NASA astronaut Nick Hague and his Russian colleague Alexey Ovchinin, who both survived a dramatically aborted Soyuz launch last year, were joined on the smoothly-executed trip by NASA astronaut Christina Koch. The rocket blasted off without incident from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and docked at the ISS less than six hours later, more than 400 kilometers (249 miles) above the Earth at 01:01 GMT, a few minutes ahead of schedule. During a live broadcast via high-definition cameras aboard the ISS, the mission commander Ovchinin reported that the mooring mechanism was engaged. A NASA commentator then confirmed the “capture.”
The liftoff was closely watched after the two men’s space journey was cut short in October when a technical problem with their Soyuz rocket triggered a launch abort two minutes into the flight. Both men escaped unharmed. It was the first such accident in Russia’s post-Soviet history and a major setback for its once-proud space industry. Speaking to reporters ahead of their six-month mission, Ovchinin said some faulty components in the launch vehicle had been found and replaced this week. “Yesterday they found some minor malfunctions,” the 47-year-old said on Wednesday. He insisted that the launch vehicle was in good shape. “There are no problems,” Ovchinin said. Hague, 43, said he was looking forward to the flight – his second attempt to get into space. “I’m 100 percent confident in the rocket and the spaceship,” he said. The October abort was caused by a sensor damaged during the rocket’s assembly.