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According to two persons familiar with the situation, at least five employees of private rocket business SpaceX were dismissed after it was discovered that they had created and disseminated a letter criticizing founder Elon Musk and pushing officials to make the company’s culture more inclusive.
The company did not immediately answer a Reuters request for comment.
According to the New York Times, the three employees with knowledge of the incident, SpaceX fired staff linked to the letter on Thursday. It didn’t say how many workers were fired.
According to the New York Times, SpaceX’s President Gwynne Shotwell sent an email stating that the corporation had looked into the message and “removed a number of individuals involved.”
Employees engaged in distributing the letter were fired, according to Shotwell’s email, for making other employees feel “uncomfortable, intimidated, and harassed, and/or furious because the letter encouraged them to sign onto something that did not reflect their views.”
Musk, a multibillionaire, is seeking a $44 billion purchase for Twitter and has stated his support for looser speech restrictions on the platform. He told Twitter staff on Thursday that the platform should tolerate “quite absurd things” as long as the content is legal.
Musk was described as a “distraction and humiliation” to the firm he founded in the SpaceX letter, titled “an open letter to the Executives of SpaceX,” viewed by Reuters.
“SpaceX must quickly and openly distance itself from Elon’s personal brand,” “hold all leadership equally accountable to making SpaceX a great place to work for everyone,” and “define and uniformly respond to all forms of inappropriate behavior,” according to a list of three requests.
Musk, also the CEO of Tesla Inc., has made news in recent months for various reasons, including his attempt to take over Twitter, his criticism of Democrats, and a reported charge of sexual harassment, which Musk has rejected in a Twitter post.
According to a person familiar with the situation 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 re-use of orbital rocket boosters and resuming regular human spaceflight from American soil after a nine-year break.
Shotwell, who is in charge of the company’s day-to-day operations, has stated that she will uphold SpaceX’s “zero tolerance” policy for workplace harassment.
Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 and has played a key role in the United States space program, becoming the only business capable of delivering 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 that the Pentagon relies on to launch the majority of US military and intelligence satellites into orbit.