Fishing Boat Snags Rocket Booster
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) _ A scallop fisherman’s net snagged part of a solid-fuel rocket booster in the Atlantic Ocean east of here, and the boat brought the dangerous catch into port.
The 1,000-pound booster piece, about 7 feet square, contained unspent fuel that could have ignited if heated, said Dave Sargeant, assistant fire chief of the Cape Canaveral Volunteer Fire Department.
Air Force spokesmen identified it as part of a Delta rocket booster; many such rockets have been launched from the Cape Canaveral complex.
The 75-foot Triton II, operated by Canaveral Seafoods, netted the motor Thursday while scalloping 22 miles east of the port, said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Dan Brosseau.
Brosseau said the ship’s captain, Billy Phillips, notified the Coast Guard of his cargo when he reached port Friday. Sargeant said firefighters had some difficulty clearing the area because few people believed the benign-looking debris was dangerous.
″People just didn’t understand what it was they were handling,″ Sargeant said. ″It’s non-toxic until it burns.
Air Force ordnance experts trucked the motor to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where it will be burned, said Capt. Ken Warren, an Air Force spokesman at Patrick Air Force Base.
Warren said the debris was identified as a Castor 4 rocket motor, a solid- fuel booster used primarily on Delta rockets.
The booster is manufactured at a plant in Huntsville, Ala., said Rocky Raab, manager of external affairs for Morton Thiokol Inc. in Brigham City, Utah. The propellant, about the consistency of a rubber eraser, will burn, but not explode, if ignited.