Kepler and counterfeit spacecraft parts
We’re heard about cheap, fake Rolex watches. And, questionable “knockoffs” of major designers brands are a well-known problem for the fashion industry.
But, counterfeit spacecraft parts? Yep.
Looking for earth-like planets with off-brand parts
NASA’s Kepler spacecraft blasted off yesterday with counterfeit titanium parts on a mission to find earth-like planets. And NASA paid for the counterfeit parts like they were the real thing.
This is a tough problem, and one that NASA has known about for some time. Indeed, NASA posted information about the problem and some ideas for addressing it on their website back in January. One approach is being tried: indictments. Western Titanium Inc. and several of it’s executives have been charged with falsifying markings on titanium parts to be used on F-15 and F-22 jets—and parts to be used on Kepler.
Big trouble might be ahead
Although the phony Kepler parts are considered to be within the specifications for that project, and they probably wont cause problems with that mission…what happens when problems DO ensue? What happens when a $300 million mission fails, or a jet crashes, or manned spacecraft suffers a disaster…from faulty, counterfeit parts?
This is a tough problem, but one that NASA is confronting directly and publicly. I hope they can solve it. But, it may be as hard to eliminate as those cheap “Rolexes” you can buy on the streets of a big city.