At least five employees were sacked by Space X, the private rocket company set up by Elon Musk, after they wrote and circulated a letter criticising the company founder, sources said.
The letter called on executives to make the company’s work culture more inclusive, two sources said.
SpaceX did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
The New York Times reported on Thursday that SpaceX had fired employees associated with the letter, citing three employees with knowledge of the situation. But it did not state how many employees had been dismissed.
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell sent an email saying the company had investigated and “terminated a number of employees involved” with the letter, the New York Times said.
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The newspaper said Shotwell’s email said employees involved with circulating the letter had been fired for making other staff feel “uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied, and/or angry because the letter pressured them to sign onto something that did not reflect their views.”
That information could not be independently confirmed.
The earlier open letter to SpaceX executives seen by Reuters had called Musk a “distraction and embarrassment” to the company he founded.
In a list of three demands, the letter said “SpaceX must swiftly and explicitly separate itself from Elon’s personal brand.” It added: “Hold all leadership equally accountable to making SpaceX a great place to work for everyone” and “define and uniformly respond to all forms of unacceptable behaviour.”
The drama comes at a time when the company is getting closer to a major goal – the maiden orbital voyage of SpaceX’s colossal moon rocket, Starship, which Musk said in a tweet on Tuesday will be ready to fly next month.
• Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard
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