NASA Says Metals Fraud Caused $700 Million Satellite Failure

  
Via:  john-russell  •  2 months ago  •  40 comments

NASA Says Metals Fraud Caused $700 Million Satellite Failure
“When testing results are altered and certifications are provided falsely, missions fail,” said Jim Norman, director for launch services at NASA in Washington. He added that years of scientific work were lost because of the fraud.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


Sapa Profiles falsified thousands of aluminum test results

A metals manufacturer faked test results and provided faulty materials to NASA, causing more than $700 million in losses and two failed satellite launch missions, according to an investigation by the U.S. space agency.



The fraud involved an Oregon company called Sapa Profiles Inc., which falsified thousands of certifications for aluminum parts over 19 years for hundreds of customers, including NASA.




200x-1.jpg



Taurus XL rocket


Source: NASA/Randy Beaudoin, VAFB

The bad parts were used in the making of Taurus XL, a rocket that was supposed to deliver satellites studying the Earth’s climate during missions carried out in 2009 and 2011. The launch vehicle’s fairing, a clamshell structure that carries the satellite as it travels through the atmosphere, didn’t fully open, causing the unsuccessful launch, according to a statement from NASA.



“When testing results are altered and certifications are provided falsely, missions fail,” said Jim Norman, director for launch services at NASA in Washington. He added that years of scientific work were lost because of the fraud.



Fake Tests


News of the satellite failures comes a week after Norsk Hydro ASA, the current parent company of Sapa, agreed to pay $46 million to NASA, the Department of Defense and others to resolve criminal charges and civil claims related to the fraud, which took place from 1996 to 2015.

The company admitted that employees had faked test results related to the metal’s strength and reliability under pressure. Sapa Profiles, now known as Hydro Extrusion Portland Inc., also agreed to plead guilty to one count of mail fraud and is barred from U.S. federal government contracting.

“Corporate and personal greed perpetuated this fraud against the government and other private customers, and this resolution holds these companies accountable for the harm caused by their scheme,” said Brian Benczkowski, assistant attorney general of the criminal division at the Department of Justice, in an April 23 statement.

A spokesman for Norsk Hydro said the case has been settled. Last week, it said it has invested “significant time and resources to completely overhaul our quality and compliance organizations.”

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JohnRussell
1  seeder  JohnRussell    2 months ago

What is this bs? American businesses never commit fraud or wrongdoing.  s. 

 
 
 
Greg Jones
1.1  Greg Jones  replied to  JohnRussell @1    2 months ago

Glad the Trump DOJ brought them to justice.

 
 
 
Kavika
2  Kavika     2 months ago
News of the satellite failures comes a week after Norsk Hydro ASA, the current parent company of Sapa, agreed to pay $46 million to NASA, the Department of Defense and others to resolve criminal charges and civil claims related to the fraud, which took place from 1996 to 2015.

$46 million against $700 million of loses. Seems that $700 million should have been the fine. 

A spokesman for Norsk Hydro said the case has been settled. Last week, it said it has invested “significant time and resources to completely overhaul our quality and compliance organizations.”

Oh please stop the BS....This went on for 19 years and their QC didn't catch it...

 
 
 
JohnRussell
2.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Kavika @2    2 months ago

As a society we need to put the responsible people in prison for these things, and not just fine them. Next time their fraud may cause an accident that hurts or kills people. 

 
 
 
Kavika
2.1.1  Kavika   replied to  JohnRussell @2.1    2 months ago

I just found an article where the one guy responsible for the fake results got a 3 plus year prison sentence and a fine of over $170,000....

https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/2018/08/company_supervisor_who_falsifi.html

 
 
 
JohnRussell
2.1.2  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Kavika @2.1.1    2 months ago

ok good. 

 
 
 
cjcold
2.1.3  cjcold  replied to  JohnRussell @2.1    2 months ago

Please tell me that they don't also make oil pipelines.

This sort of thing can easily bring down a company.

Seems a name change dodge might just not be enough.

 
 
 
1stwarrior
2.1.4  1stwarrior  replied to  JohnRussell @2.1    2 months ago

Good point John.  My question is - why haven't upper-level management folks also been brought into the courts?  Balius had to have received some "signal" to conduct his operations for faster production.  I mean, they even paid him bonuses for beating production standards.

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
2.1.5  Bob Nelson  replied to  JohnRussell @2.1    2 months ago
As a society we need to put the responsible people in prison for these things...

If "corporations are people", then the corporation should go to jail (along with all managers from the incident site up to the CEO).

A person in prison ceases normal intercourse. So a convicted company should be required to suspend operations for the length of the sentence. Considering the grave consequences for all of the company's personnel, we could surely expdct whistleblowing at the first misstep.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
2.1.6  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Bob Nelson @2.1.5    2 months ago
A person in prison ceases normal intercourse. So a convicted company should be required to suspend operations for the length of the sentence.

I would have to agree. 

 
 
 
Texan1211
2.1.7  Texan1211  replied to  Bob Nelson @2.1.5    2 months ago

I can see the need to punish the corporation, but can we find a way that doesn't cost workers their jobs?

 
 
 
Ender
2.1.8  Ender  replied to  Texan1211 @2.1.7    2 months ago

If a company is making a defective product, why should the employees continue?

 
 
 
Texan1211
2.1.9  Texan1211  replied to  Ender @2.1.8    2 months ago

Defects are often corrected, and the company may make other things that have had no history of defects. Might even be made by the same company in only one location while the company may have 7 locations. Surely you aren't suggesting that workers at plants with no problems should be penalized for something completely unassociated with them personally?

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
2.1.10  Bob Nelson  replied to  Texan1211 @2.1.7    2 months ago
...can we find a way that doesn't cost workers their jobs?

I've given it some thought, and haven't found anything.

At the same time... the exemption of non-manager personnel, along with the risk of having the company cease operations in case of criminal activity... should encourage whistleblowing at the first sign of malfeasance. That would be salutary.

Perhaps something could be imagined that lessens the company's sentence if the whistle is blown at the first occasion.

 
 
 
Ender
2.1.11  Ender  replied to  Texan1211 @2.1.9    2 months ago

So what do you suggest? Just let the company continue not knowing if it is going to do the same to others, or have some kind of federal oversight on them, which I thought the right was against.

If a company was selling faulty medical equipment, just slap them on the wrist and say do better?

 
 
 
Texan1211
2.1.12  Texan1211  replied to  Ender @2.1.11    2 months ago
So what do you suggest? Just let the company continue not knowing if it is going to do the same to others, or have some kind of federal oversight on them, which I thought the right was against.

Well, we give auto manufacturers a chance to recall their faulty vehicles and correct the problems with no cost to the consumer, right? Why not in this case? We could also bar them from bidding on any federal contracts for a set time. Or maybe allow them to bid, but only if their bid is over 10% less than the next lowest bid would it be considered.

If an auto maker makes defective cars at only one plant, should we penalize all their workers at all their other plants? Force GM or Ford to stop selling all vehicles until the one defective model has had every single defect corrected? Doesn't that sound unreasonable?

Your thoughts on the right are certainly yours.

If a company was selling faulty medical equipment, just slap them on the wrist and say do better?

No one suggested that, FFS.

And I thought you were serious until I read that.

 
 
 
Ender
2.1.13  Ender  replied to  Texan1211 @2.1.12    2 months ago

It was an analogy but I do kind of have to agree with you.

Mark this down in history.  haha

Come to think of it, what it would come down to as well, would be the market in general. If they lose their business base, they will probably be in major trouble anyway.

Even people that do not make up their bulk would most likely find a new vendor.

Although I don't take your analogy, just like you don't take mine. It is comparing an overall auto design to the faulty materials used to make it.

(Edit)  For some reason I am reminded of the movie Silkwood.

 
 
 
cjcold
2.1.14  cjcold  replied to  cjcold @2.1.3    2 months ago

Damn shame that America no longer has an EPA, OSHA, USDA, FDA, etc... dedicated to the health of Americans and the healthy ecosystems we need to survive.

Under Trump, the EPA is just an arm of the fossil fuel industry.

What substandard part (or policy or director) will fail the American people next?

Trump's picks for cabinet positions have all been the antithesis of intelligence, morality, honor and duty.

Have always been a big fan of NASA but buying from the lowest bidder has been a problem due to funding.

As long as NASA satellites point into space, Trump is happy. He imagines himself to be Kennedy.

When NASA satellites look at Earth and say he is wrong to be a science denier he is angry. Funding cut!

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
2.1.15  Bob Nelson  replied to  Texan1211 @2.1.12    2 months ago
If an auto maker makes defective cars at only one plant, should we penalize all their workers at all their other plants?

I wouldn't pretend to have thought out every configuration, but a few seconds additional thought tells me that solutions are there if we look for them.

For example, if the crime is limited to one site, then the sentence, too. And also Senior Management, who at best failed to prevent the crime, and at worst ordered it.

If we adhere to the idea that a "corporate person" should get the same sentence as any other criminal, then solutions can be found.

 
 
 
Texan1211
2.1.16  Texan1211  replied to  Bob Nelson @2.1.15    2 months ago
I wouldn't pretend to have thought out every configuration, but a few seconds additional thought tells me that solutions are there if we look for them.

Yes, we agree that there are solutions. I thought that is what we were discussing--possible solutions and any possible pratfalls of those solutions.

For example, if the crime is limited to one site, then the sentence, too. And also Senior Management, who at best failed to prevent the crime, and at worst ordered it

Thank you for clarifying that it would only apply to the incident site.

If we adhere to the idea that a "corporate person" should get the same sentence as any other criminal, then solutions can be found.

I agree. I just think that a solution can also be found to save jobs and towns.

 
 
 
cjcold
2.1.17  cjcold  replied to  Bob Nelson @2.1.15    2 months ago
"corporate person"

Citizens United was the most corrupt decision SCOTUS ever made.

The Koch billions and even more dark money poured in from global sources.

America is now owned by the highest bidders (and Trump isn't one of them).

If they are going to be people they should all be held accountable for any crimes.

Not just the traditional slap on the wrist. That means hard time with no tennis and no golf!

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
2.1.18  Bob Nelson  replied to  Texan1211 @2.1.16    2 months ago
I just think that a solution can also be found to save jobs and towns.

I agree... if the crime was a "first offense", and/or perpetrated by a small portion of management and personnel. But if it's a repeat offense, or perpetrated by a large portion of the people, then it would probably be better to give an object lesson to the marketplace.

 
 
 
luther28
2.1.19  luther28  replied to  JohnRussell @2.1    2 months ago

I agree John, begin throwing the execs into the general prison population if convicted and you will see them clean up their acts rather quickly.

 
 
 
Split Personality
2.1.20  Split Personality  replied to  1stwarrior @2.1.4    2 months ago
My question is - why haven't upper-level management folks also been brought into the courts?

from Kavika's link

Sapa's former plant production manager, Dennis Merkel, is facing two counts of major fraud against the United States. https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/2018/08/company_supervisor_who_falsifi.html
 
 
 
Ronin2
2.1.21  Ronin2  replied to  cjcold @2.1.14    2 months ago

You read this was going on for 19 years right? That covers far more than Trumps two years.

It was prosecuted under the Trump administration.

 
 
 
cjcold
2.1.22  cjcold  replied to  luther28 @2.1.19    2 months ago

And no conjugal visits!

 
 
 
cjcold
2.1.23  cjcold  replied to  Bob Nelson @2.1.18    2 months ago

Read an article the other day about small, dying, Midwestern towns that were calling for immigrants to repopulate their small towns and reopen old local businesses that were long shut down. In my neck of the woods have seen quite a few small Midwestern towns wither up and die due to migration to big cities. Seems America needs immigrants to save our small towns.

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
2.1.24  Bob Nelson  replied to  cjcold @2.1.23    2 months ago

I'm not sure how that could work. Those small towns are dying for lack of jobs. The arrival of immigrants would only make the problem worse.

 
 
 
cjcold
2.1.25  cjcold  replied to  Bob Nelson @2.1.24    2 months ago

It would likely be different for every town. Thinking about opening a bar/restaurant in a used-to-be-town that hasn't had a business in 40 years but is close to two reservoirs.

A fool and his money huh?

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
2.1.26  Bob Nelson  replied to  cjcold @2.1.25    2 months ago

Who would be the barflies?

 
 
 
cjcold
2.1.27  cjcold  replied to  Bob Nelson @2.1.26    2 months ago

There would be a plethora of movie starlets backing the Nelson play.

 
 
 
cjcold
2.1.28  cjcold  replied to  cjcold @2.1.27    2 months ago

Kansas is the new orange.

 
 
 
luther28
2.1.29  luther28  replied to  cjcold @2.1.22    2 months ago

The general prison population will be taking care of those needs:)

 
 
 
luther28
2.1.30  luther28  replied to  cjcold @2.1.23    2 months ago
America needs immigrants to save our small towns.

America needs immigrants to save America, or the notion of it at least. America was not born great, it is the millions that have come to its shores that have made it so.

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
2.1.31  Bob Nelson  replied to  luther28 @2.1.30    2 months ago
America was not born great...

What?!

Are you trying to tell us that America wasn't founded by billionaires?

I'm shocked! Shocked, I tell you!

 
 
 
luther28
2.1.32  luther28  replied to  Bob Nelson @2.1.31    2 months ago

:)

 
 
 
Kavika
3  Kavika     2 months ago

Per the article the company has been banned from US Federal Government contracting. 

It was in 2014/15 the the IG of NASA began investigating and brought this situation to light. The parent company advised it's customers what was taking place and as far as I can figure returned $2 million to buyers of their product. 

From everything that I've been able to find this was only done at the one location. 

The sentence of the one person is not the end of this. There are 12 others that have retained defense lawyers. I've not been able to find out what the outcome of that is, if there is any as of yet. 

 
 
 
cjcold
3.1  cjcold  replied to  Kavika @3    2 months ago

Used to work for NASA but haven't heard a word as to this until now. Seems I didn't have a need to know.

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
3.1.1  Bob Nelson  replied to  cjcold @3.1    2 months ago

I'd guess NASA didn't really want to broadcast the fact that they'd lost a couple satellites like this.

 
 
 
cjcold
3.1.2  cjcold  replied to  Bob Nelson @3.1.1    2 months ago

Remember when they shut our radios off when things were going bad.

 
 
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