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SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell says company is profitable

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell says company is profitable
Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president and chief operating officer, is photographed at the company's headquarters in Hawthorne in 2013. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said Tuesday that the privately held Hawthorne space company is valued at almost $28 billion based on recent funding rounds, and that it is profitable.

In a wide-ranging interview broadcast on CNBC, Shotwell said the company has had "many years" of profitability. She admitted 2016 — when a Falcon 9 rocket exploded on a Florida launch pad, destroying a commercial communications satellite it was set to launch — was "tough," though she stopped short of saying the company lost money then.

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SpaceX was grounded for four months as it completed an investigation into that incident. During the grounding, engineers continued designing upgrades for SpaceX's workhorse Falcon 9 rocket, Shotwell said. The final significant update to the rocket, known as the Block 5 version, flew earlier this month.

During the interview, SpaceX officials gave a sense of the company's production rate. The company has about 30 to 40 engines in various stages of readiness at any particular time in its Hawthorne facility, said Andy Lambert, vice president of production.

SpaceX has the capability to produce one Merlin rocket engine a day, and two Falcon 9 Block 5 rockets per month, Shotwell said.

Twitter: @smasunaga

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