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University of Idaho Students Injured In Rocket Explosion

Four students injured during the University of Idaho explosion on Thursday night were all out of surgery, communicating with campus personnel and slowly recovering on Friday morning, university officials confirmed.

The students, three of whom are studying engineering, suffered major injuries and were transported to Gritman Medical Center after the rocket they were testing exploded. The experiment was intended to test the rocket's fuel power and the way it burnt but students accidentally launched the rocket projectile into the air.

Image: The scene of an explosion at the University of Idaho, where four students were injured after a rocket test failed.
The scene of an explosion at the University of Idaho, where four students were injured after a rocket test failed. Patrick Erickson

"We're still investigating and reviewing the exact details of how this transpired. The group is sanctioned," said Dan Ewart, the college's Vice President of Infrastructure at the press conference. "A faculty member and adviser were present."

The rocket was a galvanized metal pipe, estimated to be between eight to 12 inches in length and an inch and a half in diameter and was placed on a wooden palate. The explosion caused wooden debris to be strewn all over the campus parking lot.

The first call for emergency came in at 9:52 p.m. and the Moscow Fire Department and Moscow Police Department rushed there. Four ambulances arrived at the scene shortly after as students who heard the explosion also ran to the parking lot.

Ewart said the college will not be releasing the identity of the individuals until the investigation is complete, and noted that at least one of the students was wearing protective gear over their face during the experiment.

University officials confirmed that all the students belonged to the Northwest Organization of Rocket Engineers (NORE) and the organization designs, builds and tests rockets. Officials are confused, however, as to why the experiment took place on campus and not somewhere with a larger space.

Image: The scene of an explosion at the University of Idaho, where four students were injured after a rocket test failed.
The scene of an explosion at the University of Idaho, where four students were injured after a rocket test failed. James Trayford

"There is a city code. Anything that goes into the air is prohibited. Any aerial type has to be done through the commercial type for example like the Fourth of July display," said the Chief of Police James Fry Jr.

Fry Jr. said that standard city protocol requires individuals to seek permission from the Moscow Police Department before using rockets or any aerial projects for personal use. However, this incident won't be considered a criminal investigation.

University officials said the local police is currently working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to devise a report on the incident.