A major fire accident occurred on a Segment of a Test Rocket Motor at the Solid
Propellant Space Booster Plant (SPROB) at Satish Dhawan Space
Centre(SDSC-SHAR), Sriharikota, in the afternoon of 23/2/2004. It claimed the
lives of six persons including an Engineer, three Technicians and two Helpers
and caused burn injuries to three persons.
The above crew of nine people was engaged in the Cast-Cure facility. The work at
the time of fire accident was the final operations of removing the fixtures
after the satisfactory conclusion of propellant curing of a segment of a motor
holding around 14.5 tones of solid propellant, which is a composite of Ammomium
Percholorate Oxidiser, atomised aluminium powder as fuel and Hydroxy Terminated
Polybutadiene as binder. In the forenoon, the crew had satisfactorily concluded
the removal of mandrel, which is one of the critical operations. At around 3.15
p.m. the crew were attending to the removal of the bottom plate of the casting
assembly. During these operations, the propellant in the segment inadvertently
caught fire and caused severe damages to the building and persons inside.
Three members of the nine-member team were able to escape from the building with
burn injuries. They are Shri Y Krishna Prasad, Shri S Narayanan, both are
Senior Engineers and, Shri S K Sachin, Tradesman. They were immediately rushed
to Apollo Hospital, Chennai, for giving best medical attention. Six others who
could not escape from the building were rapidly asphyxiated and burnt of
intense heat and fumes of burning of 14.5 tones of Propellant. They are Shri
Ramakrishna Prasad, Engineer; Shri Basheer Saheb; Shri N Krishnaiah; Sri
Srinivasulu (all Senior Technicians); Shri Pandit and Shri Sanjiv (Helpers).
The building suffered extensive damage due to intense heat and the estimated
damage is about Rs. 70 lakhs. SPROB was provided with two Cast-Cure facilities
to meet any contingencies and hence ISRO's programme is not expected to suffer
on account of damages to the building.
A high power Committee has been appointed under the Chairmanship of Shri R
Aravamudan to identify the events that led to the accident, the extent of
damage, and the corrective actions required for the future.