NASA Says Two of Its Rockets Failed Because of Metals Fraud

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In 2009, NASA attempted to launch a weather satellite into space. Unfortunately, the rocket’s fairing failed to open and the launch failed. Now, a decade later, we finally know why: NASA says that its contractor for the fairing, Sapa Profiles, committed extensive metals fraud.

Sapa Profiles was contracted to manufacture parts for the fairings on two NASA satellite launches—the one in 2009 and another failed launch in 2011. These parts needed to be made of a highly specific aluminum alloy that met rigorous standards for strength and durability, and according to a recent court plea, the company did not do that. Instead, employees at the company faked test results and lied to NASA and other clients.

The end result is that hundreds of parts sent to customers were defective, causing untold billions in damage. The cost of the two failed NASA launches alone was approximately $700 million, and other defrauded clients included the Department of Defense and hundreds of commercial clients.

In addition to the financial damages, the alleged fraud also cost NASA years of scientific experiments with their weather satellites and led to the discontinuation of the Taurus XL rocket used for the launches.

Currently, Sapa Profiles has admitted to the fraud in general—over a time period ranging from 1996 to 2015—but denies specifically that this fraud led to the failure of the two rocket launches. But it would be tough to believe that the poor-quality parts manufactured by the company have nothing to do with two consecutive rocket failures.

Source : www.popularmechanics.com

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