Multi-year aluminum fraud scheme blamed for two NASA mission failures

NASA Says Aluminum Fraud Caused $700 Million Satellite Failures

NASA was sold faulty rocket parts for almost 20 years

According to NASA, the launch failures of the agency's Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) satellite in 2009 and Glory satellite in 2011 occurred because of falsified test results and certifications by aluminum manufacturing company Sapa Profiles, Inc.

The investigation brought about the involvement of NASA's Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Department of Justice in the case.

A company which manufactured aluminium components for NASA faked test results over 19 years, leading to the destruction of two space missions worth $700m (£536m).

NASA released its Launch Services Program (LSP) report on April 30 which details how the agency has determined that OR aluminum extrusion manufacturer Sapa Profiles, Inc. Tensile testing involves slowly stretching and then ripping apart a sample of the metal using a machine, which then measures the force applied to the sample at each stage of the test.

A little more than a decade ago, on February 24, 2009, a Taurus XL rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California carrying a NASA satellite created to measure carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. The launch vehicle's fairing, a clamshell assembly that transmits the satellite because it travels through the atmosphere, did not absolutely open, inflicting the unsuccessful launch, in step with an announcement from independent agency.

SPI/Hydro Exclusion has also been suspended contracting with NASA. The investigation found that SPI altered test results and provided false certifications for an aluminum fairing rail frangible joint.

News of the satellite failures comes a week after Norsk Hydro ASA, the current parent company of Sapa, agreed to pay US$46 million to NASA, the Department of Defence and others to resolve criminal charges and civil claims related to the fraud, which took place from 1996 to 2015. "While we do perform our own testing, NASA is not able to retest every single component", according to Launch Services Director Jim Norman.

Now playing: Watch this: NASA isn't the only space agency trying to land on the. "The Taurus XLs that failed for the OCO and Glory missions resulted in the loss of more than $700 million, and years of people's scientific work". "In this case, our trust was severely violated", Norman said.

The bad aluminum caused a key part of the rocket to fail and doomed the missions.

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