An engineer at an Upstate New York company has been charged with falsifying inspection reports of parts used by SpaceX to build the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.
James Smalley, 41, who worked as a quality assurance engineer at Rochester, NY-based machining firm PMI Industries, is accused of falsifying at least 38 inspection reports for parts used by Elon Musk's rocket company.
Prosecutors also discovered that about 76 parts were rejected during inspection, or were never fully inspected, but were still shipped off to SpaceX.
Smalley, who's scheduled to appear in court on Thursday, reportedly justified his actions by telling investigators he falsified reports to 'ship more product.'
An engineer at an Upstate New York company has been charged with falsifying inspection reports of parts used by SpaceX to build the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy (pictured) rockets
Smalley allegedly forged the signatures of at least three investigators and used his company-issued laptop to copy and paste signatures and stamps onto falsified reports.
'According to the criminal complaint, James Smalley took the act of forgery to a new level,' Gary Loeffert, an FBI Buffalo special agent-in-charge, said in a statement.
'A potentially catastrophic level with the potential to not only cost millions of dollars, but also jeopardize years of irreplicable work.'
In January 2018, SpaceX instructed the firm SQA Services to conduct an internal audit.
The audit revealed numerous falsified inspection reports and testing certifications from PMI Industries for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy flight critical reports, according to the US Attorney's Office in the Western District of New York.
Officials rely on the inspection reports and testing certifications to ensure that parts are in compliance with quality and safety standards, so as to prevent any chance of accidents during flight.
As many as 10 of SpaceX's government missions may have been impacted by the unsafe parts. Elon Musk's rocket company later ended its relationship with the supplier, PMI Industries
As many as 10 of SpaceX's government missions may have been impacted by the unsafe parts, including seven NASA space flight missions, two Air Force space flight missions and one NOAA space flight