It’s September 6, 2003. Lockheed Martin technicians are busy at work preparing a new weather satellite for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Earlier, a technician had removed several mounting bolts off the base of the satellite’s cart, designed to turn over the satellite to make it easier to service. And yeah, he forgot to document removing the bolts.
The service technicians also failed to follow procedure by checking the presence of said bolts before they began to rotate the cart.
The result? One hilariously expensive pratfall by a $233 million satellite, falling over like a drunken sailor but with less grace.
With both satellite and egg on its face, Lockheed admitted responsibility and waived all profits in order to get the satellite fixed and orbiting earth, rather than hugging it. The U.S. Government paid $135 million of the repairs and Lockheed ultimately took $30 million in the pants.
Some six years later, NOAA-N-Prime is back on the wagon.
All repaired, the satellite launches successfully from Vandenberg on February 9, 2009, renamed as NOAA-19 on reaching its destination.
No word on whether the weather satellite, in its off-time, has been eyeing earth-bound breweries or yearning to travel to great clouds of alcohol in space.