I think (but I'm not sure) this story is quite old, possibly from before the first launch of anything into space. In the story the burn from the shuttle/spacecraft leaving Earth sets off a chain reaction that destroys all life on Earth. When the astronaut aboard returns to Earth, he realizes he is all that is left, and has an urge to find the ocean.
Alfred Bester, "Adam and No Eve"
The protagonist develops a drive that uses a "catalyst on iron solution." There is a pit that is supposed to contain any exhaust spillage until the ship is in space. This safety feature doesn't work -oops- and the first launch destroys the Earth.
And then he knew what had brought him back to the sea. There need be no Adam - no Eve. Only the sea, the great mother of life was needed.