The independent rocket company SpaceX fired at least five workers after discovering they had written and distributed a letter criticizing founder Elon Musk and urging management to make the factory culture more involved, said two people familiar with the matter.
SpaceX did not immediately respond to Reuters’ s request for comment.
The New York Times reported Thursday that SpaceX fired employees related to the book, saying three employees were aware of the situation. It was not immediately clear how many were fired.
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell sent an email saying the company had investigated and “cut off a large number of employees” in the letter, the New York Times reported.
The newspaper quoted Shotwell’s email as saying that employees involved in distributing the letter had been fired for making other employees “feel uncomfortable, afraid and harassed, and / or angry because the letter pressured them to sign something that did not agree with their views”.
Reuters could not independently confirm the report.
Billionaire Musk is pushing for a $ 44 billion bid on Twitter and has made it clear his support for free speech control on the site. On Thursday, he told Twitter staff that the forum should allow “good things to offend” as long as the content is illegal.
The SpaceX letter, entitled “an open letter to SpaceX executives,” identified by Reuters, called Musk the “disruption and embarrassment” of the company he founded.
In a list of three requirements, it stated that “SpaceX must immediately distinguish itself from the Elon type,” “hold all leadership accountable equally in making SpaceX a better place for everyone” and “define and respond equally to all forms of SpaceX”. unacceptable behavior “.
Musk, who is also the head of electric automaker, Tesla Inc., has been in the news and has been featured in nightly comedy monologues in recent months, including his desire to take over Twitter, his criticism of Democrats and reported sexual harassment allegations, which Musk denied in the post. -Twitter.
An open letter in SpaceX, first reported by The Verge, was written by SpaceX employees a few weeks ago and shared as an attachment to an internal “Morale Boosters” group discussion involving thousands of employees, a source familiar with the matter, asked. it should not be named.
Musk, who is also the company’s chief engineer, is regarded as a key figure in the success of SpaceX, such as the reopening of orbital rocket launches and the restoration of normal human space travel from US soil after a nine-year suspension. .
Shotwell, who owns a large portion of the company’s day-to-day business, said it would apply SpaceX’s “zero tolerance” standards against employee harassment.
Founded by Musk in 2002, SpaceX played a key role in the U.S. space program, becoming the only company capable of launching NASA space shuttles from U.S. soil. and plan to send people to the moon space agency within the next ten years.
SpaceX is also one of two companies on which the Pentagon relies on launching a large number of US military satellites and spies.