2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 11 Aug 2003 16:05:49 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Blast at rocket-fuel plant leads firm to put on brakes
Blast at rocket-fuel plant leads firm to put on brakes
Huge explosion's cause still being investigated
Alan Gathright, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, August 9, 2003

The decision Friday by a South Bay manufacturer of rocket engines to
halt operations while investigating what caused a huge explosion in a
fuel- mixing facility could delay planned military and space launches, a
company executive said Friday.

Thursday night's blast at the Pratt & Whitney Space Propulsion Division
complex in the rural hills south of San Jose prompted company officials
to order the precautionary step of shutting down two similar fuel-mixing
facilities until they pinpoint what ignited the volatile chemicals.

The explosion, which shook homes up to five miles away, blew the walls
off a three-story rocket fuel-mixing building and sparked a 37-acre
grass fire but caused no serious injuries.

"We have shut down the other mixers until we find out why this exploded
on us," said Webb Harwell, an executive of the company, which is a
subsidiary of the giant manufacturing conglomerate United Technologies

While saying a delay in delivery of the solid rocket fuel and motors
Pratt & Whitney provides the U.S. military and NASA "certainly is
possible," Webb stressed that "we're going to do everything in our power
to minimize the impact. All of our customers are aware of the

The firm supplies rocket fuel and motors for the government's "Star
Wars" missile defense system as well Navy missiles, NASA rockets, the
space shuttle and satellite launch vehicles.

This article can be viewed at:

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