CANAVERAL, FL - Train Cars Derail; Switch Suspect : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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July 21, 2000

2 train cars derail at KSC; solid rocket booster segments aboard OK

By Steven Siceloff and Kelly Young


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Two train cars, with two shuttle booster-rocket segments aboard, remain derailed today after an accident at Kennedy Space Center.

The train derailment, the first in KSC history, occurred around midday Tuesday as the rocket segments were about to be taken from a storage yard to a processing facility.

The train was carrying six segments, one in each car; the other four cars are not derailed and remain on the track.

No one was injured in the accident, and there is no danger of the rocket segments igniting, KSC spokesman Bruce Buckingham said Wednesday. None of the segments was damaged.

Another KSC spokesman, George Diller, said KSC workers expect to have the derailed cars back on track by this weekend, and the segments should be delivered to the processing facility next week.

The train was moving about 3 mph as engineers arranged the cars to move them. The back wheels of one car and the front wheels of another slid off the tracks as the engine was trying to connect them with other cars.

Although the cause of the accident is uncertain, Buckingham said a switch that shifts the trains between tracks, or a weak spot on the tracks, are suspected.

About 30 feet of damaged track from the accident is being repaired.

News of the accident first appeared Wednesday night on, an Internet site.

The segments, which form the rocket boosters that power shuttles, are scheduled to be used in a February mission aboard shuttle Discovery.

The derailment Tuesday is unlikely to delay the February launch, Diller said.

The segments are manufactured by Thiokol Propulsion of Brigham City, Utah. They were shipped by rail from Utah, and are transported around KSC by rail as needed.

Each of the six 20-foot-long segments is carried from the Thiokol plant in an enclosed container.

Diller said the segments are transported by train because it is "safe and practical."

He said the powdered aluminum-based fuel inside the segments poses little risk to the public or the environment, "but nonetheless they are fueled segments, so you (still) treat them with respect."

The cause of the accident is under investigation.

-- (, July 21, 2000

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