NASA’s Newest Problem: Train Carrying Parts Derails

NASA may possibly be faced with a new issue. On Wednesday, a freight train which was carrying parts of the space shuttles rocket boosters derailed. The cause of the derailment was a bridge that sank over boggy ground. Six people have been reported injured, and at least one is critical. Although a space agency spokesman, Allard Beutel, said the accident shouldn’t delay any space shuttle launches, it is yet unknown whether the equipment was damaged or not. The collapse has been put under immediate investigation.

The segments that were involved in the accident are twin boosters that are 150 feet tall and have four propellant segments each. These parts are used during liftoff and help the spacecraft break free of Earth’s orbit.They are then jettisoned off into the sea, recovered, refurbished, and reused.

“It appears when the train got onto the trestle, the trestle just gave way and sank to the ground,” Mike Rudolphi, an official with the boosters’ manufacturer, was quoted as saying. He surveyed the damage at the wreck site.”It’s going to be a challenge to get it out of there.”

There were a total of eight segments on this train, which only carried the shuttle equipment. One booster was overturned, as were two locomotives and a car carrying six attendants, all of whom were injured. The four derailed train cars landed on their sides in the woods near the tracks, but none of the cargo spilled. luckily, there was no fire.

The recovered segments will be sent back to the manufacturer’s plant, located in Utah, to be examined and possibly repaired.

Not all cars derailed, as a matter of fact, 12 remained upright. The trestle, which is about 300 to 400 feet long, sank evenly to the ground.

The derailment happened in a remote and quiet area near Mrytlewood, which is located about 110 miles southwest of Birmingham. There is no threat to the public.

These particular segments were not scheduled to be used during the next shuttle flight. They were planned to be used for missions that are upcoming, in October and December.

This was the second time in less than one week that a train has jumped it’s tracks while carrying booster segments. Last Friday, for unknown reasons, two axles on one train car came off the tracks about 60 miles west of Salina, Kansas.

This accident is the newest development of bad luck that NASA has had. In February, astronaut Lisa Nowak was arrested on charges that she tried to kidnap a romantic rival. Last month, a worker at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston first shot a colleague to death and then committed suicide.

This article first reported By JAY REEVES, Associated Press Writer
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070502/ap_on_re_us/derailment_shuttle

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