The cause of the failures left engineers puzzled for nearly two decades but Nasa released its most detailed account of the failures this week, blaming bad parts purchased from an American metals supplier whose staff faked results about the equipment's ability to cope in space.
Researchers at NASA's Launch Services Program spent several years investigating the failures. Because it seems, the joint investigation between LSP and the Justice Division turned up a 19-year fraud scheme on the part of Sapa Profiles, the corporate that supplied NASA with aluminum components for the satellites.
Hundreds of clients suffered combined losses of billions of dollars as a result of Sapa Profiles Inc (SPI) faking certificates to show that the aluminium it supplied had passed quality testing. 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. "The Taurus T9 mission also concluded in a failure of the payload fairing to separate.The Taurus T8 and T9 missions both reentered earth's atmosphere resulting in break-up and/or burnup of the rocket and satellite, and any surviving pieces would have been dispersed in the Pacific Ocean near Antarctica", the reportstates.
This week, NASA revealed why the two missions failed, and the results of the investigation are worrying to say the least. The company's statement runs: "Specifically, we have learned that some test results for mechanical properties - ultimate tensile strength, yield strength and elongation - have been altered to change failing test results to passing test results between 1996 and 2015". "In this case, our trust was severely violated", Norman said.
The aluminium manufacturer, now known as Hydro Extrusion Portland Inc.is now barred from contracting through USA federal government agencies.
The company, now known as Hydro Extrusion Portland, Inc., has agreed to pay NASA, the DOJ and other entities $46 million. Fortunately, nobody was hurt during two failed NASA missions directly linked to the faulty materials.
She added that she is extremely pleased with the entire team's efforts during the investigation which had "been worth every minute".
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