NASA Says Aluminum Fraud Caused $700 Million Satellite Failures (Reports)

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NASA Says Aluminum Fraud Caused $700 Million Satellite Failures (Reports)
NASA Says Aluminum Fraud Caused $700 Million Satellite Failures (Reports)

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277,522
Confirmed
7,403
Deaths
12,283
Recovered

The destruction of two Taurus rockets and the NASA satellites they carried is an especially frustrating failure in the annals of space exploration.

During each launch, one in 2009 and the other in 2011, the 29 meter (92 ft.) tall rockets lifted off and soared majestically toward the heavens. At the critical moment to jettison their protective nosecones, called farings, the rockets simply did not. With the extra weight still in place, the rockets did not make it to orbit. Instead, each crashed into the Pacific ocean near Antarctica.

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The destruction of two Taurus rockets and the NASA satellites they carried is an especially frustrating failure in the annals of space exploration.

During each launch, one in 2009 and the other in 2011, the 29 meter (92 ft.) tall rockets lifted off and soared majestically toward the heavens. At the critical moment to jettison their protective nosecones, called farings, the rockets simply did not. With the extra weight still in place, the rockets did not make it to orbit. Instead, each crashed into the Pacific ocean near Antarctica.

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On further investigation, the investigators discovered SPI had been falsifying test data about its products, with supervisors changing test results by hand or simply using measurements from acceptable samples to certify failed parts.

Criminal prosecutors were brought by NASA investigators, and SPI ultimately paid $46 million in restitution fees after pleading guilty to one count of mail fraud in a deal announced April 23. Previously, in 2017, SPI lab supervisor Dennis Balius was sentenced to three years in prison and paid a $170,000 fine in connection with the fraudulent certifications.

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Despite admitting that it had misled its customers, SPI still disputes its role in the two launch failures, which may have led NASA to release its latest findings.

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