Skip to comments.Military Launch Quality Issues Flagged by DoD Watchdog
Posted on 12/30/2017 3:28:56 PM PST by BenLurkin
An evaluation of military space launch services revealed lapses in quality control that could compromise the schedule and performance of future missions, the Defense Department inspector general reported last week.
The IG specifically called out the main contractors that support the evolved expendable launch vehicle program, or EELV, for failing to comply with standards required by AS9100 a widely adopted quality management system for the aviation and space industries.
Prime contractors United Launch Alliance (ULA) and SpaceX, and ULA subcontractor Aerojet Rocketdyne "did not perform adequate quality assurance management of the EELV program," said the Dec. 20 report signed by Randolph Stone, deputy inspector general for policy and oversight.
The IG report listed a number of lapses that inspectors believe could put at risk billions of dollars worth of satellite launches that the EELV program is responsible for. It called on the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, and the Defense Contract Management Agency to dig deeper into these issues.
One issue identified at ULA was related to the protection of electrostatic sensitive devices in the avionics production area. "Inadequate ESD controls and mitigation could result in the premature failure of electronic components in the EELV system," the report said.
At SpaceX, inspectors found an "inadequately protected" Merlin engine on the test stand. The Merlin engine exhaust ports and vent tubes "should have been protected with specific covers," they wrote. "We found bottles of soda and personal items in FOD-controlled areas." FOD is short for foreign object debris.
The RL-10 engine test stand at Aerojet, used to test both the Delta IV and Atlas V second stage engine, had "significant FOD issues," the report said, including "loose bolts, nuts, tape, foil, tie wraps, and animal feces."
(Excerpt) Read more at space.com ...
I’ve audited and trained a number of people to audit a lot of suppliers to numerous. Only excuse for these ESD issues is a lack of enforcement on the supplier/contractor’s part and/or an inappropriate attempt to cut cost because they don’t care or don’t understand.
FOD issues on an engine test stand may ruin your day if you are downrange during a firing, but they won’t keep you from a successful launch.
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