No injuries reported after NASA Orbiter hangars evacuated after hydrazine leak

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Two hangars at the Kennedy Space Center in which space shuttles are processed were evacuated when a leak of hydrazine was detected coming from Atlantis's Orbital Maneuvering System. The leak was first discovered in Bay No 1, where Atlantis is being post-flight serviced. Nearly 150 people were evacuated from Bay No. 1 hangar and Bay No 2. Both the space shuttle Atlantis and Endeavour were inside the hangar when the leak was detected.

Hydrazine is a toxic fuel which combines with nitrogen tetroxide to provide power for the shuttle's two maneuvering engines while it is in space.

A concentration of 60 parts per million was detected near Atlantis's engines, which is not a dangerous level.

"That's not what we consider a dangerous level. But with any reading above zero, we would take precautionary measures and evacuate the facility," said Jessica Rye, a spokeswoman for Kennedy Space Center.

NASA said that no workers were exposed to fumes or injured.

"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. 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," added Rye.