JSC survives Rita – reopens Monday

by Chris Bergin

The Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston has been spared major damage from Hurricane Rita – which hit land on Saturday.

NASA’s “Mission Control” was feared to be under major threat of serious flooding just days before Rita – which hit land as a Category 3 Hurricane – was due in the area. A move to the east of JSC helped reduce the damage sustained by the center.

Staff had been evacuated as part of the 1.5 million people asked to leave the area before Rita was due to arrive, even the rideout crew who were set to keep an eye on the center were told to leave due to the severity of the storm heading their way.

However, one employee confirmed reports in the Florida Today newspaper that their worst fears weren’t realised.

“JSC has only minor damage, nothing that will stop operations getting back to normal next week,” noted a JSC source who had left the area early Thursday.

One of the first things on the list will be to take control of the International Space Station (ISS) back from the Russians – who had been handed the responsibility to ensure the outpost was in contact with Earth 24 hours a day.

“We’ll make sure everyone is safe and that all the infrastructure has been unaffected, then we’ll thank the Russians and take back our role in ISS operations,” he added.

The Hurricane season in the US is into it’s final third, but all NASA facilities in areas of risk will be monitoring the weather reports for any other tropical waves developing – especially this year which has seen an unusually active opening season.

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