SpaceX parts tests used unreliable manual-entry spreadsheets: ex-worker


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  • SpaceX engineers were manually recording rocket part testing data into spreadsheets, a former employee said.
  • Having manual rather than automated processes like these could make testing “very slow,” he said.
  • He said no one believed the spreadsheets had up-to-date data.

SpaceX engineers used to manually enter data about rocket part testing into spreadsheets that no one trusted, a former employee said.

Karan Talati joined the space exploration company in 2013 as a manufacturing engineer. He told Insider he encountered manual rather than automated procedures for testing rocket parts, which made the process “very slow.”

He said that at the time, engineers manually recorded rocket part test data into spreadsheets before asking other engineers to check it for accuracy – so no one believed the rocket sheets. calculation contained up-to-date data.

Processes like improving the design and changing the thickness of a rocket part at SpaceX “came to a halt” due to “very controlled and rigid” processes like these, Talati said.

Having tens of thousands of parts per rocket meant that ordinary tests could sometimes take up to three hours, Talati said. He said part of his job at SpaceX is to automate “information bottlenecks” like these to dramatically reduce test times.

SpaceX did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

SpaceX was “a lot of work and a lot of intensity and that intense approach is something that goes with me forever,” said Talati.

He left the company in 2016 and worked in machine learning before co-founding First Resonance, a software developer. Talati said First Resonance was born out of “a lot of experience and pain” while working in engineering.

Working at SpaceX brought many benefits, including having resources, good communication in the factory and accepting failure, Talati said, adding that he had tried to transfer those qualities to First Resonance.

First Resonance is developing an operating system for factories that aims to help employees, especially engineers, collaborate and accelerate decision-making.

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