Above and Below

While the nation's valuable and ever-productive orbiting space assets watched safely and recorded Katrina's destruction from above, U.S. space facilities and employees in Mississippi and Louisiana experienced the terrible storm from the ground.

Thankfully, Katrina caused no major damage to the two major NASA sites in the Gulf Coast --Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

And NASA has no
reports of injured employees or contractors. However, the agency says many homes of Stennis Space Center employees in Mississippi have been damaged or destroyed. And approximately 1,000 people including NASA employees, contractors and others are finding shelter onsite at Stennis.

Over at Michoud,
Space.com reports that while workers at the external tank facility cleared debris, many of the 2,000 Lockheed Martin employees who worked at the facility remain missing or without housing.

Meanwhile, with Michoud closed,
NASA considers Kennedy Space Center in Florida (a hurricane-free zone?) as an alternative site for external fuel tank work.

So... when will the space shuttle launch next? In the wake of Katrina, NASA now says May 2006 at the earliest.

By the way, ever-busy space shuttle program manager Bill Parsons is senior NASA official in charge of the hurricane recovery effort.

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