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You can’t make this stuff up. A giant welding machine, built for NASA’s multi-billion dollar Space Launch System (SLS), needs to be rebuilt because the contractor failed to reinforce the floor, as required, prior to construction.
Sweden’s ESAB Welding & Cutting, which has its North American headquarters in Florence, South Carolina, built the the roughly 50-meter tall Vertical Assembly Center as a subcontractor to SLS contractor Boeing at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.
ESAB was supposed to reinforce Michoud’s floor before installing the welding tool, but did not, NASA SLS Program Manager Todd May told SpaceNews after an April 15 panel session during the 31st Space Symposium here. As a result, the enormous machine leaned ever so slightly, cocking the rails that guide massive rings used to lift parts of the 8.4-meter-diameter SLS stages The rings wound up 0.06 degrees out of alignment, which may not sound like much, “but when you’re talking about something that’s 217 feet [66.14 meters] tall, that adds up,” May said.
Asked why ESAB did not reinforce the foundation as it was supposed to, May said only it was a result of “a miscommunication between two [Boeing] subcontractors and ESAB.”
How everyone at NASA, Boeing, and ESAB could have forgotten to do the reinforcing, even though it was specified in the contract, baffles me. It also suggests that the quality control in the SLS rocket program has some serious problems.
Update: The original story at Space News that I originally linked to disappeared sometime in the next week, and was replaced with a slightly more detailed and more positive story, now linked above.