back to article 'Do not tell Elon': Ex-SpaceX man claims firm cut corners on NASA part tests

A fired SpaceX worker has accused the company of leaning on its employees to forge test records for parts destined for NASA. Jason Blasdell told his wrongful firing court hearing in California that although he complained to the HR department about being pressured into creating false test passes, the company ignored him – and …

  1. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Funny how whistle-blowers are all chronic complainers according to their ex-employers. Complaining that parts are substandard, complaining that test results are being falsified, moan moan moan. But they do nothing until it hits the media/courts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I have no inside knowledge on this case however some years ago and before I retired I used to work for an extremely prestigious firm. Quite often people who had left the firm for one reason or another decided that they had a grievance with the firm and made noises about legal claims. Potentially this was because it was a very very profitable firm and the lawyers representing them were looking forward to a big cut. I instigated a system to save the logs of employee activity and make them quickly and easily searchable for legal discovery purposes. Very often (not always but almost) the logs showed a very different and more complex picture than what the unhappy ex employee thought they remembered and the plaintiffs lawyers slunk away. Our lawyers loved the system as they felt it had saved the firm tens of millions by making it simple to refute erroneous claims.

      If there is any substance to this claim and the plaintiff can tie dates down to within a few weeks I would be amazed if a straight forward discovery motion did not substantiate it. This does not seem to be the case.

      1. BillG

        The technician testified that Shotwell’s response to his concerns was “Don’t tell Elon, do not tell Elon. If he finds out about this, we will all get fired.”

        I highly doubt that the president of SpaceX (Shotwell) would say something this blatantly actionable. Execs nowadays are very mindful of the fact that a hidden recording device could be a phone, a pen, a button. Assuming this conversation happened, the standard bullshit lying response is "Thanks for bringing this to my attention, I'll look into it".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Followed up by "Does anyone else know about this? Did you make any copies of the incriminating evidence?"

      2. Ian Emery Silver badge

        I dont doubt that you are correct; but there are those of us who were telling the truth.

        I was placed under heavy pressure and docked wages for reporting a dangerous situation at one multi-national, and pressured and then fired from a second for failing equipment I was sent to test.

        Even failing a light fitting resulted in me being given "punishment" duties usually carried out by contractors.

        On being fired, I wrote down a list of seriously dangerous H&S, Electrical Wiring and Fire Regulation breaches that I had found and reported, and handed them to a member of the local HSE inspection team. They went in and found every single one; but the multi-national involved threatened to move their factory and offices somewhere else, so the HSE dropped the ball.

        Heads they win, tails you lose. Report and they will make your life a misery, fail to report, and if something happens they hand you over as a patsy.

        I knew a 17 year old kid who trained with me, did something he was ordered, even though he knew it was wrong; a power bank exploded - killing someone. Guess who went to prison, the trainee, or the boss who ordered him to do it??

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          I knew a 17 year old kid who trained with me, did something he was ordered, even though he knew it was wrong; a power bank exploded - killing someone. Guess who went to prison, the trainee, or the boss who ordered him to do it??

          Makes no sense. If he's a trainee of 17, there is no doubt that the manager is responsible. Is this in Nigeria?

      3. mhenriday

        On the other hand,

        regarding Space X as a «very very profitable firm» may, according to this article, be something of an exaggeration, Anonymous Coward, so perhaps your putative experience is not entirely relevant ?...


    2. macjules Silver badge

      Err .. Yes, but ..

      Isn't being a 'chronic complainer' what makes a good QA test manager?

    3. Christian Berger Silver badge

      It's impossible to change companies

      Typically companies are entrenched in the way they work. Even if you know where the problems are, you cannot change them.

      Typically problems get hidden from the that could, in theory, change something, but even if they want to change something, it usually fails.

  2. TechnicianJack

    I suppose we'll find out who was really telling the truth here based upon whether the rocket these parts are fitted to explodes on launch or not.

    1. Ana Cronym

      Ah, the Kerbal School of Safety

      1. SolidSquid

        Nah, if it was the Kerbal School of Safety then exploding parts wouldn't really mean much at all

        1. defiler Silver badge

          In Kerbal rocketry...

          ...those explosions are called "staging".

  3. EveryTime

    In the modern era it's easy to have documentation that you laid out your concerns before being fired.

    You might be prohibited from leaving with any emails, but not the date and time you sent it. And contemporary notes about conversations aren't company property.

    Writing something up after you are fired is poor evidence that you were a whistle-blower.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      There's a lot to be learned from what James Comey (reportedly) did with keeping detailed notes for every interaction with Trump (and of course anyone else) he deemed questionable. Contemporaneous notes are going to be given a lot more weight in court than stuff that's only written down after you are fired.

      Simply sending an email to yourself would be good enough for this - it would be in the system and thereby open to discovery and proving when it was written. If you are concerned the company may "lose" such emails, you could bcc: those containing non-confidential information to a personal account so they can't claim they "lost" all the emails you sent to yourself because you could prove some of them exist.

      I have never been in this situation, but if I ever did think I might be needing to prove what I did at work in court down the road, due to being asked to do something questionable or seeing others doing questionable things, I'm going to make sure I take detailed notes that are preserved somewhere in the company's systems for discovery. Heck if nothing else just create a weirdly named folder deep in some dusty old Sharepoint or fileserver, and drop encrypted files there...all kinds of places you could hide that stuff and tell your lawyer about when the time came.

      1. bazza Silver badge

        I think that if one's concerns are of a safety nature (e.g rocket blowing up and killing people) then one would be looking for a more guaranteed information source than the company's servers.

        I'd be retaining my own lawyer and lodging printed letters, emails and data with them as well as keeping contemporaneous notes. It's a "proper" place, so you can't be completely accused of mishandling company information. And your lawyer can attest to dates, content, etc.

        Doing that before seeking how the company responds to the bad news you're able to raise with them means that you already have your evidence stashed.

        Expensive, but remember that a result of a fatal accident inquiry is that one might get a charge of negligence pinned against one, and being able to make that go away quickly and easily is an imperative; you need another job, fast!

        That's not something that one wants to entrust to a discovery process involving data that management may be trying to track down and destroy... No data looks bad, but it is also their word vs yours, and there’s more of them.

        There's engineers in VW who probably wish they'd done this...

        1. DocJames

          "one would be looking for a more guaranteed information source than the company's servers"

          I agree, but usually these problems appear over time. The first episode is minor and easily glossed over; the second - well, not minor but a one off, the third no worse than the first, the fourth... well, you're in quite a long way now aren't you? Have you written them all down? And you have a lawyer looking after you from that first, minor, who knows if this will ever be repeated, point?

          If you start recording the first, you're a suspicious bastard well out of sight of the bell curve, and probably pesky enough that the company are looking to dismiss you anyway... (I say this in all admiration of those who are like this; I'm not as too gullible).

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't be their 'rogue engineer'

    No doubt all of his complaints will be backed up with a documentation trail from the emails and memos he sent up the management chain, right? I mean, what excuse is there in this day and age of ubiquitous computers and email not to set out your concerns in writing, or to follow up any verbal discussion with a quick summary of the points discussed?

    If there isn't any, then he's either a complete idiot with all the awareness and self-preservation instincts of a rock, or this was all fabricated post termination.

    Hey, words of advice to future whistleblowers. If you're asked to do something illegal, refuse, and send an email about it to your boss. Take a copy, print it out, etc. The company will have ZERO hesitation in throwing you under the bus if it'll save itself (see the recent Uber/Waymo case). And it'll give you some leverage. Don't think that 'quiet words' or 'let's keep this hushed up while we figure out what's going on' is going to do ANY good for you if they need a scapegoat. You'll be their 'rogue engineer' who did stuff without their permission or authority. Y'know, the one who cut corners, had a bad attitude, not a team player, incompetent, perhaps even dangerous.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Don't be their 'rogue engineer'

      "Y'know, the one who cut corners, had a bad attitude, not a team player, incompetent, perhaps even dangerous."

      My reputation precedes me.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't be their 'rogue engineer'

      Hey, words of advice to future whistleblowers. If you're asked to do something illegal, refuse, and send an email about it to your boss.

      Only if you print out a copy and post it as a recorded delivery letter to yourself as well, and keep the envelope close for evidence purposes. Depending on the company you may end up with a lot of envelopes, but my point is that email can be easily manipulated, even if your company uses email as evidence. You need to organise another resource that stands up to scrutiny if you want to protect yourself.

      I worked for a consultancy where at some point someone sent an email to "all", protesting about the ethics of a particular bonus scam, sorry, scheme that they were getting people to sign up to which would reduce taxes paid on that year's annual bonus. The sender's contention was that it wasn't ethical and then went on to talk about how many social things could have been done with that money. The sender did have a point (IMHO), but it was only a matter of time before the "I have had my Roll Royce for many years, dear FT journalist, but don't mention that I have more than one in your puff piece" chairman would see that email and hit the roof despite his short statue - did I mention it was a consultancy? Sure enough, the next day the sender was sent packing and the email vanished without a trace from everyone's Exchange mailbox on the next sync.

      Except from mine - I had dumped it to text..

      Oh, and that ethical consultant? Karma happened. UK's millionaire count went up by one not too long afterwards..

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Don't be their 'rogue engineer'

        Making copies of such emails to take with you after you quit / are fired could be used against you, if they contain anything the company could possibly consider confidential or proprietary - even a code name or (at the time) future product.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Don't be their 'rogue engineer'

          Making copies of such emails to take with you after you quit / are fired could be used against you, if they contain anything the company could possibly consider confidential or proprietary - even a code name or (at the time) future product.

          Good point, that's why you should never open the physical envelopes after you've received them, and in case of dispute be talking to legal council asap. As for that specific email, I dumped a copy at the time because I found the email interesting and I had a feeling something would happen. The email was my personal evidence that, in case of legal dispute, our email archiving wasn't as immutable and reliable as the company made it out to be. I never let on I had an actual copy, my referring to the email with the correct time and allusion to contents was ascribed to a good memory :).

        2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: Don't be their 'rogue engineer'

          Making copies of such emails to take with you after you quit / are fired could be used against you, if they contain anything the company could possibly consider confidential or proprietary - even a code name or (at the time) future product.

          Bullshit point. Anything can be used against you nowadays, so you better play too.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Don't be their 'rogue engineer'

        "but my point is that email can be easily manipulated, even if your company uses email as evidence."

        Cryptographically signed email is much harder to fiddle with.

    3. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: Don't be their 'rogue engineer'

      "what excuse is there in this day and age of ubiquitous computers and email not to set out your concerns in writing, or to follow up any verbal discussion with a quick summary of the points discussed?"
      Or writing down in detail your concerns and making a Statutory Declaration that you put into the hands of your lawyer for potential future use. Worked for me...

      Cheaper option is to send yourself a registered letter that is not opened until needed.

      1. barbara.hudson

        Re: Don't be their 'rogue engineer'

        Even cheaper and better option: Go down to city hall (or perhaps your bank) and have their notary public (aka public notary) witness, sign, date, and stamp the actual pages. In my town it's free if you're a resident $5 for non-residents, and you don't have to prove that the contents of the envelope haven't been tampered with.

        Even better, the stamp is visible on photocopies. Kind of hard to claim the document was made long after the date stamped on it.

        BTW - the whole "mail yourself a copy in an envelope" thing is old and flawed. People have been doing this for ages, thinking that it will protect patentable ideas, which is why it's called the "poor man's patent". It doesn't. More on this here and here

        As the IEEE Spectrum article points out, save yourself the cost of a stamp.

  5. malle-herbert


    After having been on the wrong end of the stick myself I practise C.Y.A. religiously...

    //For those who don't know the abbreviation... it's : Cover Your Ass...

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Yep...

      Wer schreibt, der bleibt.

      1. Anomalous Cowshed

        Re: Yep...


        "Schrift ist Gift"

  6. tekHedd

    That's just how we do it

    forge test records? Reminds me of college chemistry lab. There's not time to do all of the runs described in the lab, but if you make up realistic-looking results you'll get an A.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's just how we do it

      Never worked for me, there was never quite enough left after explosions to derive results from. Forging them would have been self defeating :)

  7. Vulch

    Differing cultures

    From discussion elsewhere... They guy is ex-military and his background had him expecting every component, no matter how small and trivial, to have its own serial number and detailed record of testing and use. SpaceX in common with a lot of similar industry only tracks to batch level and does appropriate representative testing. Interpreting, it seems like a statement along the lines of "This box of bolts has been tested" in SpaceX terms means "We've taken half a dozen at random and checked they meet spec" whereas in his terms anything other than "We have checked every single bolt in this box meets spec" is forgery.

    1. tekHedd

      Re: Differing cultures

      Well? Sampling is a good way to track whether your process is in control, but does not indicate that the product in question has been tested. Whether this is a problem depends entirely on whether you are telling the customer that you are doing 100% testing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Differing cultures

        Anyone who insists on 100% testing is onto a looser if the test is destructive.

        More seriously when testing you work with a sample plan that tells you how many you need to test out of a given size batch to get the required degree of confidence. If it's a critical component the sample plan may ask for 100% testing. If it's mundane as in a standard bolt for use in undemanding applications you might only need 4% or less if its a big batch even for aerospace as all you are checking is that its not a bad batch.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Differing cultures

        Sampling is indeed a recognised way of assessing quality, and NASA may have requested / required something more stringent, a possibility for a manned flight. Testing each and every rivet, nut and bolt may sound excessive, but perhaps not so to an organisation that learned all about quality control and flight safety the hard way, long ago, several times over, with several failures and deaths.

        And 100% is also subject to misinterpretation; it could mean that 100% of components are built in a quality controlled environment, or that 100% of components are individually tested. Those are two very different things (but both are valid, depending on the requirements).


        I don't actually know what NASA require, but NASA will be the sort of customer who will naturally audit SpaceX's quality control. That is simply a normal, non-confrontational thing to do for something like a manned rocket. Audit is a normal means of establishing quality, and quality does not happen without it. The thing is that this auditing will be pitched at quite a high rate to begin with, so if SpaceX aren't living up to the requirements NASA have they will soon get found out. And if they are living up to NASA's requirements then that will be quite quickly established too.

        The trouble is that SpaceX themselves have reported that some of their failures have been down to poor quality control - struts for the helium tank in stage 2 for example. The effects of super cooled O2 on the carbon weave around the tank were also reported to have been under-investigated, leading to the pad explosion in late 2016. Some press reports surrounding the aftermath of that incident were very ugly, with some suggestions that some elements of SpaceX were in the mindset of "it can't be a problem with our rocket, it has to be a sniper on ULA's building".

        Back in the very early days they were talking about launching at such a high rate that the build throughput alone would allow reliability to be quickly achieved. They don't mention that so much these days - I don't think the rate is anything like high enough - but it mirrors the technique used by Rolls Royce to make the Merlin reliable, and that worked out OK.


        There is such a thing as a "Conspiracy of Optimism". That can be a very damaging mindset in an organisation, and it can spread very easily from the top down. The only way to be sure that it is stamped out is for the guys at the top to make it very clear that everyone in the organisation is empowered to shut it down if they think something is wrong, and that there will be nothing but praise for anyone doing so.

        This can be a very difficult culture for an ambitious, do it fast and do it first organisation (like SpaceX?) to accept. Toyota do this, and it means that they can take a while to get a production line up to speed, but it has helped them become the biggest manufacturer with a (normally) rock solid reputation for quality.

        If there is a conspiracy of optimism within SpaceX, which is in effect what is being alleged, then NASA's auditing needs to be pin sharp. If NASA have caught the bug too (they did before with Challenger, Colombia, Apollo 1), or have got too much political pressure being applied, I fear for the astronauts lives.

        So is SpaceX suffering from a conspiracy of optimism? Hmm, let's see, there's the very public ambition coming from the high profile boss, there's the boss's own lack of prior personal experience in the rocket business, there's the careless failures, there's been reports of difficult meetings with NASA in the past, there's the names of the stage 1 recovery barge, the changeable business model, the defensive selective live video coverage (risky manoeuvres aren't shown live, as if huge rocket explosions can be concealed), the high profile publicity, and the almost tech-god cult status of the boss bordering on religious fanaticism... That's fertile ground for a conspiracy of optimism.

        However, the very fact that they've been as successful as they have been means that there is at least quite a lot of suppression of unbridled optimism. You can't get to where they have done by throwing it together and hoping for the best.

        The thing is that it needs to be fully suppressed from top to bottom for manned space flight to be safe. If there's any truth (ie. it was actually said, and was thought likely to be true by whoever said it) to the statement "Don’t tell Elon, do not tell Elon. If he finds out about this, we will all get fired", regardless of whether the guy had a valid safety point or not, then that is, in my opinion, a bad sign.


        Boeing have had similar disputes with staff. The structures ("bear straps") around doors on 737 weren't being manufactured properly by a supplier (supposed to be CNCd, actually being hand made). Boeing shop floor workers knew something was wrong (the parts weren't fitting, and management instituted a 'bash to fit' policy), and some of them decided they wanted no part of this. Cue a lengthy array of law suits.

        AFAIK all the affected airframes went into service, and likely are still flying. It's been a while since those airframes were sold, and none have yet crashed because of it. However it's exactly this kind of manufacturing irregularity that can cause fatal failures towards the end of life. For all we know Boeing are sitting on a time bomb of liability, just waiting for one to disintegrate in flight.

        I'm sure that in reality an assessment of the situation was made by Boeing's structural engineers and a position agreed as to whether the irregularities mattered or not. Airliners are in many regards very well over engineered, so there's probably opportunities to relax a specification here and there.

        However I think that it would have been very difficult to make a fully objective, irrefutable assessment - each one was different. And the one thing I do know about fatal accident inquiries is that the only thing that keeps you out of jail is demonstrable objectivity supported by cold, hard, recorded data, measurements and logs. Saying "well it was fine most of the time" lands you with a charge of negligence...

        I mention this because it shows just how even a mature engineering organisation such as Boeing can fall victim to a conspiracy of optimism. Even back then Boeing were feeling the heat from the A320, and the pressure was on. In Boeing's case we don't know yet, and we won't until the last one is scrapped.

        In SpaceX's case, any such shortcomings are likely to be found out very swiftly, with little time between mistake and astronauts' funerals in which the management / engineers can have second thoughts, second careers, retirements.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: Differing cultures


          Epic answer. The only item missing is Risk Management. Today's legal and technical environment is a minefield, you are never sure whether your newly build device will fail in interesting ways, whether your currently breaking some law or will after the next parliamentary session, or whether some guy of a suffering minority won't start a discrimination lawsuit and bring the mighty wrath of the slacktivists down upon your head.

          Only the well connected or those who can deploy muscle can survive.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Differing cultures

            @Destroy All Monsters,

            "The only item missing is Risk Management."

            Quite right. Risk management, at least the management of really big risks, seems to be something that the tech companies are doing really badly in my opinion. For example, TEPCO in Japan ignored the advice of it's own engineers and the Government regulator and kept Fukushima running for a small profit. How I bet they wished they'd taken the risk seriously...

            They had grudginly spent the money on pressure relief valves just prior to the earthquake, without which it would have turned into 3 x Chernobyl (exploded containment, cores venting freely to the atmosphere, bye bye lots of Japan including probably Tokyo), so in a way they were incredibly lucky.

            Take Google and their self driving car effort. Surely they know that if they do a "self driving car" then, like it or not, they are inheriting all liability for the actions that car and their software performs, irrespective of what the EULA says. That is a phenominally massive risk to the existance of Google / Alphabet. They'd be one software bug away from millions of simulatenous accidents. Ok, so their testing might eventually suggest that such a bug is unlikely, but the risk is non-zero.

            Given that, one wonders why they're bothering. Let's see... Risk likelihood: low (or at least that's the idea). Risk impact: lots of dead people, Google ceases to exist as a company due to burden of mass litigation. Risk mitigation: none, it cannot be eliminated, lots of testing needed to minimise it. Risk complexity: high (driving a car is a complicated, unpredictable thing). Risk perception evolution: as time passes, Google will be perceived to have become more liable as people forget how to drive. Current risk mitigation activity: sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that the risk won't exist when we're done.

            Personally I think the State of California is doing Google (and everyone else doing self driving cars) a massive favour by publishing the statistics from their on-road testing. It means they're not being allowed to fully ignore the risk they're running...

            For SpaceX, and I suppose Tesla, etc. it's an organisation that really hasn't had any real experience in dealing with a death for which they bear the responsibility. The closest they've come is people taking the phrase "Auto Pilot" too literally (and, given the nature of the phrase, it's understandable why they did so even if they were crazy to do so).

            If a company builds something that ends up killing someone, the company from the top down has to show that it took all possible measures to guard against a fatal outcome. If they cannot, and if it's shown that they deliberately did not take all possible measures, then someone goes to jail.

            So with SpaceX and manned flight, Elon Musk personally is running a risk that he could wind up in jail if an astronaut is killed and the subsequent inquiry reveals he ordered short cuts in QC be taken, or instilled a culture of fear, or etc.

            I wonder how he's personally managing that risk? Has anyone actually told him of that risk?

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Differing cultures

      The right way, the wrong way and the weasel way?

    3. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: Differing cultures

      MILSPEC equipment and parts often are extremely costly, partly for just this reason. I recall a particular high frequency transistor many years ago that could be ordered as either a military qualified unit or not; the MILSPEC price was about $35 each, and the others, with identical packaging and specifications, were priced at less than $3.50. They all would have been made on the same line, in groups of many, by largely automated processes, and almost to a certainty differed only in whether they were tested on an individual or small sample basis.

      1. Woodnag


        Don't forget the material traceability records, device selection (tighter gain specs?), extended temperature testing, and perhaps even heat aging to get past infant mortality... not that this really justifies the end pricing.

        1. Martijn Otto

          Re: Milspec

          The end pricing is justified because there is a market for it. What if that component is part of a critical, multi-million-dollar piece of equipment. Suddenly you need to consider the additional cost of all that testing vs the additional cost the insurance wants if you don't use it.

          The more expensive component turns out to be cheaper in most cases.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    After I took redundancy from a large corporate energy company I was told something in confidence by my ex-boss (who I happened to get along with extremely well because he knew my work was 100% and my findings 99.9% true).

    I had been labeled as 'industrial terrorist' - purely because when things were clearly wrong I had no issue in advising of the said wrongness, but changes would cost cold hard cash.

    The trouble with failures in an corp (or small business) is that most of the the time the managers and owners/high level execs want to live in la-la land - admit or acknowledge the shit and you're liable for it is their fear.

    I must admit I wasn't upset by the label, it still gives me a sense of pride to this day working as a contractor who is just as honest as those days in the energy sector.

  9. Joe Dietz

    There's always somebody on every engineering team that is a complainer - typically about process being wrong/inefficient etc, and won't just shut up about it and get on with the business of shipping product. I always try and at least listen to the concerns since sometimes they see something nobody else can, but.... a lot of it ends up being based upon a mis-understanding of what quality means.

    Quality doesn't mean 100% of <whatever> are never going to fail, its more of a question - "is the failure rate predictable, acceptable and yields a profitable product?" That's a really pragmatic and nuanced thing - it just doesn't fit with a lot of the black/white, right/wrong world view that some have which causes distress and complaining.

    The words 'acceptable' when dealing with NASA/Mil Spec however is probably a lot closer to the 100% will never fail end of the spectrum, but that's also why said orgs are never going to fly to Mars....

  10. Alistair Silver badge

    "The firm also stated that Blasdell’s safety-related complaints only emerged after he was fired, stating that until that point his complaints were all about the “inefficiency” of testing"

    That Spacex made this statement, along with the supposed response from Shotwell, I think our 'whistleblower' is whistling dixie.

    Elon has a serious hate on for inefficiencies. He's made that abundantly clear in several cases.

    However, someone somewhere will find the required bits of paper to cook one side or the other. I rather suspect it will be someone on SpaceX's side that will be wielding the paper frying pan.

  11. YourNameHere


    The question though was there a procedure and was it being followed? If I am building a rocket that will be carrying humans or 100's of million dollars worth equipment, having every part tested is not a bad procedure and it will cost money and time, deal with it! If that same part was in a $300 quad copter for my kid, I don't think we need to test every part.

    Look at this industry, quality counts and if you dont' think so consider the following. How much money was spent on the premature failure of the ODM box on the ISS after only a few months in space this week. Look at the recent issues with the Proton using "questionable" parts. Or look at the lack of testing on a previously used helium tank on a certain rocket manufacturer. There is a reason to test, test, test and follow procedures and then test again. I agree you can not test in quality, but it helps and now that SpaceX is in high volume production, quality control and verification is key to their success.

  12. yet_another_wumpus

    A tale from the Enron days (but giant military-industrial complexes move slowly).

    A captive subcontractor for Lockheed made its ethics program *very* clear. Lowly engineers will be told to produce or else, and treated accordingly. Don't expect an explicit "we expect you to forge documents", how to pass qualifications is up to you, but you might not get the schedule/budget to do it on the up and up. The entire program was made to shove the fall guy as far down the chain as possible. Finally: once you leave the program, the company might be interested in access cards and laptops you might have, but you *better* fork over that ethics handbook. They *really* didn't want that thing falling into the wrong hands.

    Pass all complaints to the ethics officer. Whose only obvious qualification involved sleeping with the boss (married, but apparently they started during his previous marriage. Oh and she handled the security clearances as well).

  13. barbara.hudson

    Just goes to show what we always knew

    Going to HR is a waste of time. They are there to protect the company and their own jobs first. You, on the other hand, are always expendable (even when you aren't).

  14. GrapeBunch Silver badge


    The world needs more inquisitive and relentless minds such as that of the late Richard Feynman, though the world know it not.

    Not strictly on topic, but I thought obligatory.

    1. Mk4

      Re: Gasketry

      I understand what you mean but I think Feynman's investigation of the Challenger accident is a bit different. The take away from this story is that the world needs fewer people of dubious ethics in the workplace.

      BTW - Sally Ride was the person with the real insight as she had been in the middle of the NASA circus at the time of the Challenger accident. The hints about the SRB seals failing were passed from her to Feynman via General Kutyna (all three were members of the presidential commission to investigate the accident).

    2. Is It Me Bronze badge

      Re: Gasketry

      Much as I agree and Feynman was great, in his biography it notes he was given some pretty explicit hints about where to look.

      That said he demonstration of it was brilliant too.

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