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Train carrying shuttle rockets derails

Story Highlights

• Train carrying shuttle rocket boosters derails in western Alabama
• At least two people injured, says a NASA spokeswoman
• Train was on its way to Kennedy Space Center
• No spill reported, NASA considers the situation stable
From Miles O'Brien and Kate Tobin
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(CNN) -- A train carrying reusable solid rocket booster segments for the space shuttle derailed in western Alabama Wednesday, leaving at least two people injured, a NASA spokeswoman said.

The train was on its way to Kennedy Space Center in Florida from Utah, where the rocket booster segments are manufactured, when the accident happened around 10 a.m. ET near Pennington, Alabama, about 100 miles west of Montgomery, spokeswoman Katherine Trinidad said.

One of the injured was an employee of ATK, the company that makes the segments, and the other was a railroad employee, she said. The two were airlifted to Mobile, Alabama, said George Torres, a spokesman for ATK. (Watch rail cars strewn along the tracks Video)

The fuel inside the segments is ammonium perchlorate, which has the consistency of a rubber eraser.

Because it is a solid, nothing has spilled out of the railcars, Trinidad said.

The train, which had 16 cars, went off the tracks in a forested area after a bridge collapsed, she said. Not all of the cars carrying the eight segments derailed.

No residents or nearby communities are at risk, and the fuel cannot explode unless it is deliberately detonated, Trinidad said by telephone from Washington.

However, once the fuel is ignited, it cannot be extinguished.

NASA considers the situation stable, she said.

This is the second time this train has derailed on its journey from Utah, Trinidad said.

On Friday, a few wheels went off the track in Kansas, but no cars turned over, she said.

The segments will be sent back to Utah for inspection by the manufacturer.

They had been intended for use in the October 20 launch of the space shuttle Discovery, NASA officials said.

The derailment is not expected to affect that launch, the officials said, because NASA has an ample supply of other segments available.


The train, which had 16 cars, went off the tracks in a forested area after a bridge collapsed.




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