Justice charges man with falsifying inspection reports for rocket parts


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The Justice Department has charged an employee of a company now out of business for falsifying inspection reports of rocket parts intended for use on both the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rocket.

The complaint states that in January 2018, an internal audit by SQA Services, Inc. (SQA), at the direction of SpaceX, revealed multiple falsified source inspection reports and non-destructive testing (NDT) certifications from PMI Industries, LLC, for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy flight critical parts. SpaceX notified PMI of the anomalies. Source inspections and NDT are key tools used in the aerospace industry to ensure manufactured parts comply with quality and safety standards. Specifically, the signed source inspection report had a forged signature of the SQA inspector. SpaceX and SQA officials believed the signature of the inspector was photocopied and cut and pasted onto the source inspection report with a computer.

On February 16, 2018, the NASA Launch Services Program alerted the NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG), and Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Resident Agency, regarding the falsified source inspection reports and false NDT certifications created by PMI. Some of the false source inspection reports and false NDT certifications were related to space launch vehicle components that, at the time of discovery, were to be used for the upcoming Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission, which launched from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on April 18, 2018.

Based on this report, it appears that SpaceX identified the problem before launch and that none of the questionable parts ever flew.

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8 comments

  • Diane Wilson

    Same supplier that was responsible for the failed strut on the CRS-7 mission?

  • Cotour

    Life imitating art imitating life.

    http://www.movies.com/all-my-sons/details/m15426

    Based on the play by Arthur Miller, Arthur Miller is a drama of man’s duty to man that retains a potent impact. Edward G. Robinson plays a manufacturer of parts for World War II airplanes who lives a full, satisfied life in a small town. But his idyll is shattered by the arrival of the fiancée of the manufacturer’s oldest son, who is missing in action. The younger son begins to fall in love with the girl, but her own brother is against the relationship because, he claims, the manufacturer and his partner delivered defective parts to the war effort. The younger son (Burt Lancaster) investigates, even going as far as visit his father’s former partner in jail, and discovers the awful truth — that his father’s corrupt actions were responsible for both the partner’s incarceration and the deaths of 21 U.S. pilots. The tale ends with a bitter and tragic confrontation that drives home the message that we are all our brother’s keepers, and we cannot push aside that responsibility for personal gain. Thoughtful and intense performances by Robinson and Lancaster bring humanity and life to this powerful theme. ~ Don Kaye, Rovi

  • Col Beausabre

    During WW2 Captain Hyman Rickover was the head of the Electrical Branch of the US Navy’s Bureau of Ships. He was notorious for testing samples of equipment under extreme conditions – maybe even unrealistically high. But his explanation was that men’s lives depended on the continued functioning of these devices no matter what. He was also not afraid to speak his mind. It was not uncommon for a manufacturer to get back a box of charred, shattered junk with a note from Rickover like “Shock proof, my ass!” When he ran Nuclear Power Division, he insisted on sailing on the sea trials of all nuclear powered vessels. On one ship, a gearbox was running hot and squealing. His diagnosis, “The gearbox is performing exactly the way it was designed, the design is [deleted].”

    We need his like today.

  • Mark McSherry

    FROM: Patterson Jr., William H.. Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1: Learning Curve 1907-1948 (p. 341). Tom Doherty Associates. Kindle Edition.

    “Early in 1945, Ginny Gerstenfeld came to him with a problem. She had been working on the inflatable life rafts all naval aircraft carried as emergency equipment. Her test sample for a batch of life-raft adhesive had jelled and so, of course, could not be used as an adhesive at all. She put in an order for a replacement test sample when her immediate superior, John Huddick, stopped her. BuAer wanted this batch and wanted it now. Huddick told her to pass it as if it had been tested. Gerstenfeld was astonished—and dismayed: life rafts assembled with this stuff could come apart as they inflated. Her immediate reaction was to refuse the order, but she asked for time to think over the matter and went to Heinlein for advice.

    “She was perfectly correct—and these were orders she could not possibly obey with a clear conscience. But rationality can destroy you in an unsane situation: if she simply refused the order she might be brought up on charges of insubordination and handed a General Court Martial (GCM)—a very serious matter. The order to falsify test results was clearly illegal, but in wartime, a GCM might not want to hear mitigating circumstances to insubordination. Heinlein told her to sit on the matter for a while—do nothing yet—while he had a talk with her supervisors, probably thinking he might be able to straighten it out with a politician’s diplomacy.

    “But the Adhesives section supervisors didn’t see anything out of the ordinary about the situation, anything mitigating at all. BuAer had made its request and that was that. Their job was to accommodate BuAer. Heinlein tried to explain it patiently but found himself getting angry. Somehow, the “discussion” got out of control and degenerated into a shouting argument—with no practical results at all.”

    Patterson Jr., William H.. Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1: Learning Curve 1907-1948 (p. 341). Tom Doherty Associates. Kindle Edition.

  • Col Beausabre: You are suspended for a week. I just yesterday made the point that obscenities are not allowed on BtB, and included a link to this post by me where I stated quite clearly:

    And don’t think it is okay to quote someone else verbatim and get away with this. As I noted just now in a reply to the suspended commenter, when Richard Nixon’s White House used the term [expletive deleted] everyone knew what it meant. It wasn’t a great solution, but it at least showed that they recognized that it was inappropriate to nonchalantly print obscenities, even ones spoken by the president. At the same time, they knew they couldn’t edit the transcripts, so they found a way to make it clear what was on the tapes without adding to the misbehavior.

    I welcome your comments, but this is my workplace. I expect people to respect them.

  • eddie willers

    Captain Hyman Rickover

    I had a history course from a pretty lazy professor who would take paragraphs out of the textbook and leave a couple of blanks out of sentences and your answer was to fill in the blanks.

    One of the “answers” was Hyman Rickover. I argued about how stupid it was to expect me to memorize someone’s name in a paragraph.

    He said, “You should KNOW who Admiral Rickover is regardless”.

    From forty years away, I realized he was right.

  • wodun

    Not good for SpaceX as this will be used against them no matter what.

  • wodun

    Question: What if Col Beausabre had linked to the quote on a different site? Is that a violation of the rule?

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