On Tuesday, NASA revealed that a pair of missions failed due to a nineteen-year aluminium scam. A metals company has faked test results and supplied defective materials to NASA. The scam imposed losses worth more than $700 million. As per an investigation by the U.S. space agency, the fraud has resulted in the failure of two satellite launches. Previously, the 2009 Orbiting Carbon Observatory and 2011 Glory missions failed. The payload on the Taurus XL rockets failed to split on command. NASA designed the satellite, ten years ago, to measure carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. But the combined spacecraft and rocket never reached orbit.
Although, a joint analysis including NASA and the Justice Department has shown that the problem took place due to an aluminium maker. The company is Sapa Profiles Inc., an Oregon company, which faked thousands of certifications for aluminium parts over the past many years. According to the Justice Department, workers at the company’s Portland, Oregon plants modified failing tests so materials showed up to pass from 1996-2015. After that, they offered the fake test results to hundreds of consumers nationwide. They did so to raise corporate revenues and get production-based perks. NASA used those bad and defective parts in the production of Taurus XL.
Jim Norman, director for launch services at NASA in Washington, said when test outcomes are modified and fake certifications are offered, missions fail. He added the space agency lost years of scientific efforts due to the scam. Jim noted it’s critical that they are able to trust American industry to produce, test, and certify materials according to the required standard. He added, their move has seriously breached NASA’s trust. On the other hand, the aluminium producer admitted that employees had falsified test results concerning the metal’s strength. They even compromised with the reliability of metal under pressure. Now the U.S. fed has banned Sapa Profiles, now famous as Hydro Extrusion Portland Inc., from government contracting.
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