Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dangerous Fumes Leak At Kennedy Space Center

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Some dangerous fumes leaked early Monday in the orbiter processing facility at the Kennedy Space Center.
The space shuttles Atlantis and Endeavour were in the hangars at the time of the leak, WESH 2 space expert Dan Billow reported.
Hydrazine fuel, which forms a vapor when it is released, leaked in the building. Since the fumes can be fatal when inhaled, 150 workers were immediately evacuated from the orbiter processing facility.
A NASA spokeswoman said everyone is OK.

"We wanted to make sure to take the employees who were around that area, make sure they were OK and there was no exposure to the hydrazine," said spokeswoman Jessica Rye. "Then what they'll do is make sure the bay is ready for people to go back, and I would anticipate if people aren't already back they will be shortly."
There are three orbiter processing facilities at Kennedy Space Center. Engineers use the areas to prepare the shuttles for flight.
Over the weekend, workers in special protective suits were working with the hydrazine fuel. Hydrazine fuel is used in space.
In addition to forming a potentially fatal fume cloud, hydrazine fuel explodes when it is mixed with the other kind of propellant used in the space shuttle.
Billow said that is why NASA uses hydrazine fuel as rocket fuel -- all workers have to do is mix the two and it always explodes.

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