As Astra brings on talent, we’ll profile new and veteran members of the Astra team and community who are working toward our mission to improve life on Earth from space. This week we speak with Pablo Gonzalez.

Pablo recently joined us as Senior Vice President of Factory Engineering, where he will help lead efforts to scale production of rockets and satellites. Pablo will draw on his experience at innovative companies from Pixar to Tesla to make access to low Earth orbit more reliable and cost effective.

What attracted you to Astra?

Astra’s rocket building capacity is highly innovative and matches my background scaling and streamlining factory production in the automotive, semiconductor, solar, and battery industries.

The more I got to know Astra, the more I realized how the company’s strategy to automate rocket production will turn the industry on its head. In the past, almost all aspects of a rocket’s hardware and software were customized, which is expensive, time consuming, and can lead to human error. By building a scalable platform, you can repeat what works and scale it quickly. By merging data and manufacturing we can build rockets that are more cost-effective and reliable.

How did your background at Tesla prepare you for Astra?

Traditional automobile manufacturers have been iterating and improving on their production capabilities for decades. At Tesla, we started from scratch and built a world-class factory in just a few years. So many of these attributes align with our work and priorities at Astra. It’s also important to remember that when you build cars, safety and quality control are essential.

How did your work at Pixar influence your engineering style?

At first glance an animation studio and a rocket company may not seem to have much in common.  But Pixar is built around storyboarding, and that’s actually similar to how we build things at Astra. Storyboarding is as much a creative process as it is a process for ensuring clarity, consistency, and teamwork.  At Astra, we storyboard each part of the automation process, and make clear to everyone what we’re doing, step-by-step.

I also applied this process at Tesla, by using a technique from the semiconductor industry, where we would create storyboards for every process of a production line, from start to finish – all the way to the process of shipping out the factory door.

What is it that inspires you about space?

A lot of people are focused on space because they want to explore its depths and mysteries, which is definitely very cool. What really fascinates me is the ability to find ways we can improve life here on Earth.

We will be able to deploy a constellation of satellites around the world that to benefit us by improving connectivity and increasing data collection, which lends itself to a large number of use cases. This will take humans to the next level and vastly improve our understanding of Earth and create incredible efficiencies. With the Astra approach, we’ll be able to adapt satellites to constantly improve and deploy technologies that haven’t even been invented yet.

Interested in being a part of our mission? Join us.