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Just in: NASA supplier banned for supplying dirty rocket fuel to SpaceX

A court penalized and barred a fuel delivery contractor for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from dealing with government contractors earlier this week after the company acknowledged fraud and record-keeping violations. The contractor, a trucking firm, had been working with the federal organizations for eight years and had provided fuel for both NASA and Pentagon rocket launches.

A district judge’s ruling on Thursday will prevent the business from obtaining any contracts from federal government agencies. Its vehicles also provided fuel for SpaceX flights. Following its admission of cheating NASA, a Texas company was fined $275,000 and agreed to forfeit the gross proceeds. The Southern District of Texas attorney’s office disclosed the decision’s specifics, and they showed that the company’s officials had acknowledged fabricating data.

In making the statement, Jennifer B. Lowery, the top federal law enforcement officer for the Southern District, revealed that Anahuac Transport Inc., a Hankamer, Texas-based supplier of liquid chemical and petroleum transportation services, had acknowledged the possibility that it may have sent tainted rocket fuel for NASA and Pentagon missions.

Gary Monteau and Brant Charpiot, the attorneys representing Anahuac, made the declarations in front of the court in February and also consented to the company’s loss of $251,401 in supply-related earnings. On Friday, district judge Alfred Bennet made his judgment on their actions public and sentenced the firm to probation as well as a new fine.

In addition to a three-year suspension from dealing with government organizations like NASA and the Pentagon, Anahuac is also required to pay a $275,000 fine as part of this probation. He said in his speech that the corporation had violated and misused the right to cooperate with the American space program, adding that NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston is an important part of the city’s identity and that the company had failed to recognize the importance of its collaboration.

The press statement continued by stating that NASA and the Pentagon had contracts for their launches with businesses like SpaceX and that the government organizations had also subcontracted Anahuac to deliver the fuel through its tankers to the NASA partners. The United Launch Alliance (ULA), a business that the Pentagon also uses in addition to SpaceX to launch its satellites, was not mentioned in the lawyer’s office.

The press announcement described the infringement made by the transportation company, saying that Anuahac was obligated to make sure that none of its trucks and tankers carrying rocket fuel had ever carried anything that may have contaminated it. The corporation fabricated its records to demonstrate that this had occurred, but in fact, the chemicals had been transported using the same machinery that was used to carry rocket propellant.

NASA utilized the fuel that was delivered by these trailers for their rocket launches. Although it is not explicitly stated, it seems from the release’s phrasing that the Pentagon did not utilize any tainted fuel for rocket launches. NASA missions are carried out by SpaceX using the Merlin 1D engine-powered Falcon 9 rocket. The fuel for this engine is Rocket Propellant 1 (RP-1, also known as kerosene), and the oxidizer is liquid oxygen, which sets the fuel on fire.

Kerosene used in rockets must be free of impurities like sulfur and other chemicals like olefin and aromatics. Sulfur levels that are too high may harm rocket engines, produce unclean exhaust, and cause other hazardous issues. Since they also utilize fuel before it is burnt to create thrust, the remainder may wind up clogging an engine’s cooling tubes.

Source: WCCFTECH

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Written by Alex Bruno

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