WY - Rocket explodes during test

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Rocket explodes during test CASPER, Wyo. (AP) -- A test firing of a rocket motor ended with a bang. The rocket engine designed by John Wickman exploded five seconds into its test firing on the ground Wednesday. Wickman and about two dozen spectators, including scientists, friends, family and civic officials, watched from a safe distance as the burning propellant spewed shards of rocket casing and molten aluminum high into the air. Instead of a 30-second burn that was intended to generate 6,000 pounds of thrust, the broken motor burned for about two minutes, scorching the earth and sagebrush.

"Whenever you build a new piece of equipment, you have glitches," said Paul Kolodziej, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration engineer who has been working with Wickman. Casper-based Wickman Spacecraft & Propulsion Co. is taking part in a program to develop a rocket that eventually will carry a replacement for NASA's space shuttle.


-- Doris (reaper@pacifier.com), October 20, 2000

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