Errant rocket recovered

Posted: Wednesday, April 09, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Parts of an errant rocket have been retrieved by a team from Poker Flat Research Range.

The rocket was one of four launched March 27 for aurora borealis research. It was lifted out to Poker Flats by helicopter Saturday after an explosive-ordnance team punctured a chemical canister on board, range officials said.

There did not appear to be any trimethyl aluminum (TMA) in the canister, said Bob Shefchik, a spokesman for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, which operates the range near Fairbanks. TMA, to be released as a chemical tracer during the flight, ignites on contact with air or water.

The 12-foot-long second stage of a larger rocket was recovered. Crews continue to search for the first-stage motor.

Officials from the range, the institute and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will review all aspects of the launch, including the process of public notification after the rocket was lost, Shefchik said.

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