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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully launches its 16th resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on December 5, 2018 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Photo: Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

SpaceX is laying off more than 600 people — about 10% of its workforce, the Los Angeles Times first reported and Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The layoffs come soon after SpaceX moved to raise $500 million at a reported $30.5 billion valuation in order to fund its ambitious plan for satellite-based broadband services. The company has received FCC approval for launching more than 4,000 satellites into low-Earth orbit as part of this constellation, which it calls Starlink.

  • SpaceX, along with Boeing, is working to resume launching astronauts into space from U.S. soil, which has not happened since the end of the Space Shuttle era in 2011. Founded by Elon Musk, the company was scheduled for its first uncrewed test of a Falcon 9 rocket with a Crew Dragon capsule attached on Jan. 17. However, that's been pushed back to February due to the government shutdown and lack of NASA contractors to help with the work at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
  • In 2019, SpaceX aims to achieve the first deployments of its Starlink satellites, meet several Commercial Crew requirements, and also carry out tests of Starship — a reusable launch system the company says will be capable of carrying humans to Mars.

A SpaceX spokesperson gave the following statement to Axios:

“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. Either of these developments, even when attempted separately, have bankrupted other organizations. This means we must part ways with some talented and hardworking members of our team. We are grateful for everything they have accomplished and their commitment to SpaceX’s mission. This action is taken only due to the extraordinarily difficult challenges ahead and would not otherwise be necessary.”

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
20 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Biden's plan to upend Trump's environmental legacy

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden will on Wednesday order a government-wide review of over 100 Trump-era policies and direct agencies to prepare a suite of emissions and energy efficiency rules.

Why it matters: New information from transition officials offers the full scope of Biden's imminent, inauguration-day burst of environmental and energy policy moves.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
21 mins ago - Health

The public health presidency

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Joe Biden will take office today facing a challenge none of his modern predecessors have had to reckon with — his legacy will depend largely on how well he handles a once-in-a-century pandemic that's already raging out of control.

The big picture: Public health tends to be relatively apolitical and non-controversial. The limelight in health care politics typically belongs instead to debates over costs and coverage. But that will all change for the Biden administration.

D.C. braces for economic hit from scaled-back inauguration

Photo: Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The days leading up to and including Inauguration Day typically generate $31.4 million in additional sales for D.C. businesses — but not this year.

Why it matters: Washington's economy is already suffering from pandemic-induced closures, and could very much use the revelry and tourist dollars that Inauguration Day brings — instead of the large bills that will pile up if there's further mayhem or if visitors continue to stay away.

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