U.S. -based metal manufacturer faked test results and supplied NASA with defective materials over a 20-year period, resulting in two failed satellite launches and more than $700 million in damage, according to a recent NASA investigation.
According to bloomberg, NASA is accusing a company in Portland, ore., called Sapa Profiles Inc. (SPI) of falsifying thousands of aluminum component certifications obtained over a 19-year period by hundreds of customers, including NASA.
Now, SPI’s parent company, norsk hydro, has agreed to pay $46 million in fines to NASA, the U.S. department of defense and other agencies over the incident.
In addition, in order to solve the occurred during the period of 1996-2015 and fraud related criminal charges and civil claim, SPI also confiscated company has signed a contract with the us government contractor to bring the profits of $1.8 million, a test lab director of SPI also acknowledged the relevant charges, currently serving, also was ordered to pay $170000 in compensation.
Under the justice department settlement, SPI has been manually tampering with the results of failed aluminum component tests since 1996.
Since 2002, the company has also started manually falsifying test records, and its technicians regularly speed up the testing machines and cut samples in ways that do not meet the specifications.
The noncompliance continued until 2015, when NASA suspended all government contracts with SPI.
Defective parts caused two satellites to crash
The defective parts were used in the construction of NASA’s Taurus XL rocket, which was used in missions from 2009 to 2011 to launch satellites to study earth’s climate.
NASA said the two failed missions were the orbiting carbon observatory in 2009, which was designed to accurately measure carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and the Glory earth atmospheric sounding satellite in 2011, which was designed to help humans with climate research.
The protective nose cones of the two Taurus rockets carrying the orbiting carbon observatory and the Glory earth atmospheric sounding satellite failed to separate as ordered, causing the rockets to be too heavy to reach their intended orbits, NASA said in a statement.
Jim Norman, NASA launch services director, said:
“NASA relies on the entire supply chain.
Although we do our own testing, it is not possible to retest every part in person.
The launch mission failed when the test results were tampered with and the certificates given to us were all wrong.
- importantly, we trust our American manufacturing colleagues to produce, test, and certify materials to the standards we require.
But it is clear that our trust has been badly betrayed.”
Norman added that years of research work had been lost to these frauds.
U.S. attorney Zachary twiliger for the eastern district of Virginia also wrote: “norsk hydro subsequently provided false test results to hundreds of customers throughout the United States, all in an effort to increase corporate profits and obtain production-based bonuses.”
“Our partners at NASA and the military, as well as hundreds of private companies, believe that the hydro product will not be defective,” said special agent in charge of the FBI’s Portland field office, mark cannon.
But over the past 20 years, this company’s greed has violated that trust.”
The company has been established for more than 110 years
Norsk hydro admitted that its falsified test results were related to the metal’s strength under pressure.
According to the information, norsk hydro was founded in 1905, is a Norwegian aluminum and renewable energy company, headquartered in Oslo, the capital of Norway, is one of the world’s largest aluminum companies.
The company has operations in about 50 countries and regions around the world. The Norwegian government owns 34.3% of the company through the country’s ministry of trade, industry and fisheries. The company currently employs approximately 35,000 people.
In addition, Sapa Profiles, now a subsidiary of hydro Portland, also pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and was barred from future contracts with the U.S. federal government.
Brian bentzkowski, assistant attorney general for the justice department’s criminal division, said in an April 23 statement:
“The greed of norsk hydro and individuals has allowed this type of fraud to continue against the government and other private clients, and this resolution calls for these companies to be held accountable for the losses caused by their actions.”
A norsk hydro spokesman said the case had been resolved and last week the company had invested “significant time and resources to overhaul our quality and compliance organisation”.
It’s not the first time a U.S. -based company like SPI has had a manufacturing scandal, as reporters at the national business daily noted.
In the wake of the recent crash of Ethiopian airlines’ Boeing 737MAX, attention has turned to the manufacturing of the plane.
The New York times reported last month that at Boeing’s new plant near Charleston, south Carolina, tools and metal scraps were often left artificially inside the 787 dreamliner, mostly near the electrical systems.
Although the aircraft is tested before it leaves the factory, it has debris in its engine and tail that can cause problems in the flight.
Even the worker at the plant said he would never fly the 787 dreamliner himself because of safety concerns.