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Fri, Sep 12, 2008

NASA's Johnson Space Center Closes As Ike Looms Off Coast

Mission Control Moved Inland, Progress Docking At ISS Delayed

NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX closed at noon CDT Thursday, and will remain closed until the threat of Hurricane Ike has passed. Ike, a Category 2 hurricane in the western Gulf of Mexico, is expected to cross the Texas coast early Saturday as a Category 3 storm.

The International Space Station Flight Control Room at Mission Control in Houston was shut down Thursday morning. Station flight control continued through backup teams located near Austin, TX and Huntsville, AL.

"We will assess any damage, and decide when it's safe to come back," NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries told The Houston Chronicle.

Approximately 16,500 JSC workers -- many of whom live in the Galveston Bay area, which is expected to take the brunt of Ike's arrival -- were encouraged to evacuate the area Thursday.

Most NASA aircraft at Ellington Field, located just north of Johnson, have been flown to a facility in El Paso, TX. That includes 19 of 26 T-38s, a WB-57, and three of four shuttle training aircraft. Nine other aircraft are undergoing maintenance, and have been secured in hangars at Ellington to wait out the storm.

The impending storm also delayed the planned Friday docking of a Russian Progress cargo ship at the ISS. That docking, originally scheduled for just after 4:00 pm CDT Friday, will be rescheduled once Mission Control at Johnson is back up and running.



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