Two OPF Bays evacuated following leak

by Chris Bergin

Two bays at the Orbiter Processing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) have been evacuated, following a leak of monomethyl hydrazine (MMH), this morning local time.

Thankfully, no one was injured or harmed by the very dangerous hypergolic propellant – which is used to power the orbiter’s OMS (Orbital Maneuvering System) engines.
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‘A little before 9am this morning, the Orbiter Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center had to evacuate two of their three processing bays,’ said NASA officials claim.

The leak occurred in OPF-1, which is currently housing Atlantis and her preparations for STS-117 (LON-317) next year. The leak, detected by the daily safety checks, also affected OPF-2, which is where Endeavour is currently housed.

‘Each morning, a safety crew checks chemical levels in the rooms and they found unexpectedly high levels of monomethyl hydrazine which is one of the two components of the fuel used in the Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) on the Shuttle,’ added the NASA official.

How the leak occurred appears to have been during the transit of some of the hypergolic fuel, although no specifics of what processes were being carried out at the time of the leak were noted.

‘They use a quick-disconnect hose to carry the fuel between the bays and a cap somehow came off prior to the levels being tested this morning,’ added NASA. ‘There were no injuries and the fuel flow has been stopped.

‘Employees, if they’re not back at work now, will be returning to work shortly.’

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