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Rocket Crashes After Malfunction

October 4, 1997

GOLDFIELD, Nev. (AP) _ A rocket that federal officials hoped would demonstrate the safety of future shots crashed 10 minutes after launch Saturday, scattering debris in the desert.

No buildings were in the area and no injuries were reported, said Derek Scammell, spokesman for the U.S. Energy Department.

The rocket, launched from the Nevada Test Site, malfunctioned and crashed about 12:30 a.m. near Goldfield, 180 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Search efforts for debris began after sunrise Saturday, recovering parts of the 34-foot-long rocket, Scammell said.

The Energy Department and Sandia National Laboratories, which planned the launch, were investigating the cause of the crash.

The project was designed to show that rockets can be safely launched from the test site to the Tonopah Test Range, 70 miles north. The flight was to last 12 minutes.

Authorities had hoped the test fight would provide the Navy Strategic Systems Program with data about fuse performance to help gauge the reliability and safety of the nation’s nuclear stockpile.