Nasa struck by fraud sting
Saturday 04 December 1993
The 18-month sting, code-named 'Operation Lightning Strike', aimed at exposing fraud at the Johnson Space Center in Texas. The revelation that one unnamed astronaut and five other Nasa employees may be implicated in corruption is a serious blow to the battered image of the space agency.
Nasa had hoped to restore its reputation by successfully repairing the Hubble space telescope when the space shuttle Endeavour docks it later today. Launched in 1990, the dollars 1.6bn ( pounds 1bn) telescope was immediately found to be unable to focus because its primary mirror was the wrong shape.
The FBI is upset that the investigation was exposed by press and television in Texas before it was concluded. Nasa has long been notorious for being spendthrift and careless in the way it awards the contracts - on which it spends 85 per cent of its dollars 14bn annual budget - to private companies.
The focal point of the sting was to persuade the life-sciences section of Nasa, which studies weightlessness in space, to buy the bogus equipment, whose ostensible purpose was to dissolve kidney stones through ultrasound. At least 15 contract employees and two large aerospace firms are said to be implicated.
Two employees of General Electric Aerospace Division, now owned by Martin Marietta, were secretly videotaped by the FBI receiving thousands of dollars in cash bribes. They had allegedly promised to steer sub-contracts to a phoney FBI front-company which was pretending to be a minority-owned business.
Although sting operations have become an accepted part of US law-enforcement practice, the offer of bribes by undercover agents is often difficult to distinguish from entrapment.
- 1 Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 Tunisian builder has been hailed a hero after knocking gunman to the ground with roof tiles
- 4 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 5 E.L James's #AskELJames Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
Dutch city of Utrecht to experiment with a universal, unconditional 'basic income'
Tunisian builder has been hailed a hero after knocking gunman to the ground with roof tiles
German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Extend Right To Buy to tenants of private landlords, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn says
David Cameron struck double blow in his hopes to win Britain a new EU deal
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
£500 - £600 per day: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Solution Architect is requir...
£18k - 20k per year: 360 Resourcing Solutions: ROLE: Export Sales Coordinato...
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest developer of mobile...
£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...