- SpaceX engineers used to manually log data about rocket part tests in spreadsheets, a former employee said.
- Having manual rather than automated processes such as these could make testing “very slow,” he said.
- He said nobody trusted that the spreadsheets contained up-to-date data.
Engineers at SpaceX used to manually input data about rocket part tests into spreadsheets that nobody trusted, a former employee has said.
Karan Talati joined the space exploration company in 2013 as a manufacturing engineer. He told Insider that he encountered manual rather than automated procedures for testing rocket parts, which made the process “very slow.”
He said that back then, engineers would manually log rocket part test data into spreadsheets before getting other engineers to verify its accuracy – so nobody trusted the spreadsheets as having up-to-date data.
Processes such as improving the design and changing the thickness of a rocket part at SpaceX “came to a standstill” because of “very controlled and rigid” processes such as these, Talati said.
Having tens of thousands of parts per rocket meant that run-of-the-mill tests could sometimes take up to three hours, Talati said. He said part of his job at SpaceX involved automating “information bottlenecks” such as these to drastically cut testing times.
SpaceX didn’t 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’s with me forever,” Talati said.
He left the company in 2016 and worked in machine learning before cofounding 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 came with many positives, including having resources, good communication on the factory floor, and accepting failure, Talati said, adding that he’d tried to carry over these qualities to First Resonance.
First Resonance develops an operating system for factories that aims to help employees, especially engineers, collaborate and speed up decision-making.