A rendering on a Dream Chaser spaceplane in orbit.
Sierra Space, certainly one of the sector’s most precious private firms, laid off several hundred employees and contractors this week, CNBC has learned.
A Sierra Space spokesperson confirmed the corporate let go of about 165 employees on Thursday, but declined to specify the variety of contractors affected. Former Sierra Space employees told CNBC that the layoffs included a big variety of contractors, with the cuts including tons of of personnel in total.
The laid-off employees received two weeks of paid non-working notice, plus 4 weeks of severance pay and health care advantages through the top of the 12 months. Sierra Space had about 2,000 employees before reducing its workforce, the corporate spokesperson said.
The Colorado-based company, which was recently valued at greater than $5 billion, is pushing hard to fly the long-awaited first mission of its Dream Chaser spaceplane.
Sierra Space this week shipped the primary Dream Chaser, named Tenacity, for pre-launch testing at NASA’s Armstrong facility in Ohio. The layoffs began soon after, the Sierra Space spokesperson said, noting the corporate conducted a surge in hiring this 12 months to finish work on the Tenacity spacecraft.
With Tenacity shipped, Sierra Space’s spokesperson said the corporate is realigning to give attention to the operations phase of Dream Chaser’s first mission, in addition to on classified national security work.
The latter a part of Sierra Space’s realignment includes adding nearly 150 employees with security clearances from Sierra Nevada Corp., the aerospace and defense contractor owned by Fatih and Eren Ozmen, which the space company was spun out of two years ago. Sierra Space’s spokesperson said the corporate is making a national security space team to work on several classified contracts.
Sierra Space also recently lost a pair of senior executives before the layoffs: COO Jeff Babione, who retired, and Senior Vice President of Space Destinations Neeraj Gupta. The corporate said the departures were unrelated.
Two months ago, Sierra raised just below $300 million at a $5.3 billion valuation.
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Dream Chaser has been in development for years with a goal to deliver cargo and eventually crew to low Earth orbit as a reusable vehicle. It resembles a miniaturized NASA Space Shuttle in appearance and is built to launch atop a conventional rocket and land on a runway like an airplane.
The primary Dream Chaser launch was previously scheduled for late last 12 months, but delays in the event of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket pushed back that timeline. Dream Chaser is planned to launch on ULA’s second Vulcan mission, with the primary Vulcan launch targeting December.
Dream Chaser has won NASA contracts to fly seven cargo missions to and from the International Space Station.