Published: Thu, May 02, 2019
Science | By

Faulty aluminum led to $700 million satellite failure, reveals NASA

Faulty aluminum led to $700 million satellite failure, reveals NASA

Now, it's prevented from ever entering into a contract with the USA government again, in addition to fines of $46 million paid to NASA, the Department of Defense, and others.

NASA has announced that its investigators have determined the technical root cause for the Taurus XL launch failures that resulted in the loss of the NASA Orbiting Carbon Observatory and the Glory mission in 2009 and 2011 respectively.

The fraud involved an OR company called Sapa Profiles, which falsified thousands of certifications for aluminium parts over 19 years for hundreds of customers, including NASA.

In both cases, the failure occurred in the payload fairing, a clamshell nosecone that protects the payload from the temperatures and pressures of launch, then separates and falls away once the payload is in orbit. (SPI), an Oregon-based aluminium extrusion manufacturer, and it had been perpetrating its fraud for 19 years.

"It is critical that we are able to trust our industry to produce, test and certify materials in accordance with the standards we require", said Jim Norman, director for Launch Services at NASA Headquarters. The joints are supposed to fracture during the launch sequence so the full fairing can be jettisoned, which frees the payload to be deployed into orbit. Also, Brian Benczkowski, the assistant attorney general of the criminal division at the Department of Justice, says that only corporate and personal greed can lead to this kind of fraud against private customers and government, and this has to be stopped and punished. A frangible joint is a structural separation system that is initiated using ordnance.

In essence, SPI "altered test results and provided false certifications to Orbital Sciences Corporation", the builders of the Taurus XL.


NASA relies on the integrity of our industry throughout the supply chain.

The exclusion from government contracting has been in effect since September 20, 2015.

Jim Norman, NASA's director for Launch Services at NASA Headquarters in Washington, expressed his enormous disappointment with the scam.

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.

Now playing: Watch this: NASA isn't the only space agency trying to land on the. NASA has suspended SPI from government contracting and proposed SPI for government-wide debarment.

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