Science

NASA was sold faulty aluminum in 19-year scam

NASA was sold faulty aluminum in 19-year scam”

Back in 2009, and then again in 2011, the American space agency launched the Taurus XL missions, two rockets that were supposed to take to orbit the agency's first environmental satellites dedicated to mapping atmospheric carbon dioxide and sulfate and other aerosols, respectively.

A hot potato: An Oregon aluminum supplier has admitted to altering test results and falsifying certifications over a almost 20-year period, costing victims millions of dollars and potentially putting lives at risk.

The launch vehicle fairing - a clamshell structure that encapsulates the satellite as it travels through the atmosphere - failed to separate on command. "In this case, our trust was severely violated", said Jim Norman, NASA's director for Launch Services, in a release.

"Due in large part to the hard work and dedication of many highly motivated people in the NASA Launch Services program, we are able to close out the cause of two extremely disappointing launch vehicle failures and protect the government aerospace supply chain", Amanda Mitskevich, LSP program manager at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, said in a statement.

Dennis Balius, the SPI testing lab supervisor who led the scheme, pleaded guilty to mail fraud and was sentenced to three years in prison. While we do perform our own testing, NASA is not able to retest every single component.

An Oregon-based aluminum extrusion manufacturer has agreed to pay $46 million to NASA, the Department of Defense and other customers to settle charges related to a 19-year fraud scheme that ultimately resulted in two failed NASA missions.

In essence, SPI "altered test results and provided false certifications to Orbital Sciences Corporation", the builders of the Taurus XL. Equipment used by the USA military has also been created using the faulty SPI aluminium.

According to the court documents, former employees began "dreading" the practice of being asked to "fake tests, pass failing material or enter fake data". When testing results are altered and certifications are provided falsely, missions fail.

A new report from the U.S. Justice Department reveals that a company by the name of Sapa Profiles (now Hydro Extrusion Portland) falsified tests to make their products appear to be, well, not total garbage.



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