SpaceX has fired at least five people over a speech criticizing Elon Musk

SpaceX did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The New York Times reported Thursday that SpaceX has fired employees associated with the letter, citing three employees familiar with the situation. It did not give details of the number of employees who were laid off.

The New York Times said Gwen Shotwell, president of SpaceX, sent an email saying that the company investigated and “terminated a number of employees involved” in the letter.

Shotwell’s email said employees involved in circulating the letter were fired because they made other employees feel “uncomfortable, intimidated, intimidated and/or angry because the letter pressured them to sign something that did not reflect their views,” the newspaper said.

Reuters could not independently confirm this report.

Billionaire Musk is pursuing a $44 billion bid to buy Twitter and has made clear his support for freer speech controls on the site. On Thursday, he told Twitter employees that the platform should allow “outrageous things” as long as the content is not illegal.

The SpaceX letter, titled “An Open Letter to SpaceX Executives,” seen by Reuters, called Musk a “distraction and embarrassment” for the company he founded.

In a list of three demands, it said “SpaceX must quickly and openly separate itself from Elon’s personal brand,” “all leadership bear equal responsibility to make SpaceX a great place to work for all” and “identify and respond uniformly to all forms of unauthorized behavior.” Acceptable “.

Musk, who is also the president of Tesla Inc. The electric car industry has made headlines and appeared in late-night comedic monologues in recent months, including his quest for control of Twitter, his criticism of Democrats and allegations of sexual harassment, which Musk denied in a Twitter post.

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The SpaceX open letter, first reported by The Verge, has been crafted by SpaceX employees in recent weeks and shared as an attachment to an internal “morale booster” group chat that brings together thousands of employees, a person familiar with the matter said, asking not to be named. .

Musk, who is also the company’s chief engineer, is seen as a pivotal figure in many of SpaceX’s notable successes, such as its pioneering reuse of orbital rocket boosters and the return of routine human spaceflight from American soil after a nine-year hiatus. .

Shotwell, who leads much of the company’s day-to-day business, said it would enforce SpaceX’s “zero tolerance” standards against employee harassment.

Founded by Musk in 2002, SpaceX has played a central role in the US space program, becoming the only company capable of launching NASA astronauts into space from US soil and planning to send humans to the moon for the space agency within the next decade.

SpaceX is also one of two companies that the Pentagon and the US military rely on to launch the bulk of the US military’s spy satellites into space.

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