SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk arrives for a U.S. Senate bipartisan forum on artificial intelligence on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 13, 2023.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images
SpaceX employees have put their lives on the road to satisfy the aggressive pace of labor that Chief Executive Elon Musk has demanded in pursuit of a Mars mission, in line with a Reuters investigation.
The report documented over 600 previously undisclosed workplace injuries at SpaceX facilities since 2014, which Reuters said are only a component of the full number that is just not publicly available.
Reuters examined injury logs and public records from the corporate’s six biggest facilities. SpaceX had not reported much of the injury data previously, in violation of regulatory standards. The investigation also included interviews with dozens of current and former SpaceX employees.
Among the many injury data that Reuters gathered, over 100 staff experienced cuts or lacerations, 29 broke or dislocated bones, 17 had their hands and fingers crushed and nine had some form of significant head injury.
The unsafe workplace environment is a results of Musk’s view that SpaceX is on the front lines of saving humanity from a deteriorating planet, staff told Reuters. He has accelerated work deadlines, forcing employees to work long hours at fast paces.
To expedite productivity, staff also said that SpaceX dodges “a certain quantity of red tape.” Based on worker accounts from the investigation, senior SpaceX managers skirted safety protocols and product testing. Those shortcuts led to severe injuries, including employees suffering comas and sometimes, even death.
The decline of workplace safety at SpaceX and the accelerated speed of labor reflects the rat race of the space industry at large, where SpaceX is usually viewed as the highest player.
SpaceX, which makes rockets and operates Starlink, a satellite web provider, has experienced rapid growth. It’s currently valued at over $100 billion. Some expect the corporate to go public by 2027.
But as competition within the industry grows fiercer, investment in space has shrunk over the past 12 months. The industry-wide pressure has grow to be a part of the rationale that firms like SpaceX have put increasing pressure on being the primary to innovate.
Read the complete Reuters investigation here.