Updated January 27th, 2024 at 14:18 IST

SpaceX faces negligence lawsuit following rocket engine malfunction

The lawsuit highlights concerns raised by former SpaceX employees who disclosed systemic problems at the company.

Reported by: Business Desk
Elon Musk | Image:AP
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Elon Musk's aerospace company, SpaceX, is now contending with a negligence lawsuit filed by Ydy Cabada, the wife of Francisco Cabada, a worker who suffered a fractured skull during a rocket engine malfunction in January 2022. The incident, previously detailed in a Reuters investigation, led to at least 600 unreported workplace injuries at SpaceX.

In the lawsuit, Ydy Cabada alleges negligence on SpaceX's part and brings attention to the January 18, 2022, engine malfunction involving her husband, Francisco Cabada, who remains in a coma more than two years later. The incident occurred during pressure testing at SpaceX's facility in Hawthorne, California, where a Raptor V2 engine malfunctioned, causing a fuel-controller assembly cover to strike Francisco Cabada's head and fracture his skull.

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The lawsuit highlights concerns raised by former SpaceX employees who disclosed systemic problems at the company. Sources revealed that senior managers at the Hawthorne site were repeatedly warned about the risks associated with expediting the engine's development, inadequate staff training, and insufficient testing of components. The specific part that failed and caused the injury had a known flaw that was not addressed before testing, according to employees.

SpaceX has not provided comments on the worker injuries reported by Reuters or responded to inquiries about the Cabada case. The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which has contracted SpaceX as a private space contractor, has yet to comment on the lawsuit.

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SpaceX's Raptor engines play a crucial role in powering Starship, the company's advanced rocket designed for satellite launches and human space travel. NASA plans to use Starship for lunar missions in the coming decade.

(With Reuters inputs)
 

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Published January 27th, 2024 at 14:18 IST