Former SpaceX employee says he was fired for raising concerns about falsified tests, but a jury disagrees

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launches from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday. (Bill Ingalls / Associated Press)

Former SpaceX technician Jason Blasdell contended he was fired from the Elon Musk-led company in 2014 because he raised concerns with management that testing protocols for rocket parts were not being followed and that test results were being falsified.

But on Wednesday, a jury ruled that Blasdell’s reporting of his “reasonably based suspicion” of a violation of law was not a “substantial motivating factor” in his termination.

Hawthorne-based SpaceX said in a statement that it was “pleased” with the jury’s verdict.
“Nothing is more important to SpaceX than the quality and reliability of its launch vehicles and spacecraft, and that guiding principle is consistently reinforced throughout the company,” SpaceX said.

Carney Shegerian, Blasdell’s attorney, called the verdict “disappointing.”

“It’s just unfortunate because there’s just no other reason to fire Mr. Blasdell,” he said.

Blasdell worked at SpaceX for almost four years and tested components of the company’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft as an avionics test technician.

In a complaint filed in 2016 in Los Angeles County Central District Superior Court, he said managers pressured test technicians to “deviate from written test procedures” and to sign off on testing that had not been performed as required.

Blasdell said he brought up these concerns separately to both SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell and Musk, the chief executive, and that both said they would look into the matter but never did, according to the complaint.

Blasdell alleged in the complaint that management “minimized” his complaints partly because they did not want to slow productivity.

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