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.
Shockingly, NASA has found that the root cause of the failed Orbital Taurus XL rocket launches was faulty rocket parts sold by a third party.
The NASA investigation has revealed how a metals manufacturer faked some test results, and the metals were provided to NASA for a satellite build projects.
According to court documents, Hydro Extrusion Portland, Inc., formerly known as Sapa Profiles Inc., and its corporate parent, Hydro Extrusion USA, LLC, formerly known as Sapa Extrusions Inc., admitted to providing customers, including US government contractors, with falsified certifications after altering the results of tensile tests created to ensure the consistency and reliability of aluminum extruded at the companies' Oregon-based facilities.
NASA notes that it relies on the integrity of the industry in its supply chain pointing out that it can't perform its own testing on every single component and requires and pays for some parts to be certified through the manufacturer. "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". Now, a decade later, we finally know why: NASA says that its contractor for the fairing, Sapa Profiles, committed extensive metals fraud.
In 2009 and 2011, two Taurus XL missions failed after the rocket's fairing did not successfully separate on command.
SPI/Hydro Exclusion has also been suspended contracting with NASA.
He continued: "It is critical that we are able to trust our industry to produce, test and certify materials in accordance with the standards we require".
SPI agreed to pay $46 million to the USA government and other commercial customers for the 19-year scheme that included falsifying thousands of certifications for aluminum extrusions to hundreds of customers. "In this case, our trust was severely violated". As a outcome of the investigation, NASA has suspended SPI from government contracting and has additionally proposed debarring the company permanently.
In a statement from last week, a spokesman for Norsk Hydro said that the company has invested "significant time and resources to completely overhaul our quality and compliance organizations".