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Mon, Sep 15, 2008

JSC May Be Closed A Week Or More Thanks To Ike

Hurricane Damaged Mission Control Center Roof

Monday marked the first full day crews could assess the damage wraught on the Houston/Galveston Island area following Hurricane Ike... and while things could have been a lot worse, crews are now finding that some structures were damaged more than initially believed.

NASA reports Johnson Space Center -- located southeast of the downtown area, about 10 miles inland from the shores of the Houston shipping channel -- could be closed throughout this week and possibly into the next, as crews work to repair roof damage sustained to the Mission Control Center complex during Saturday's landfall.

JSC lost all power in the storm, said NASA spokesman John Ira Petty, but electricity was restored Sunday. A 65-member storm team rode out Hurricane Ike at Johnson, and has begun to transition to recovery operations, cleaning up debris, restoring power and other center facilities and infrastructure.

Spared from the surge that swamped the barrier island regions of Galveston Island and Bolivar, most of the damage at JSC came from high winds, which uprooted trees throughout the area.

The MCC oversees all shuttle launches, and operations onboard the International Space Station. As ANN reported, the evacuation of the Johnson Space Center ahead of Ike last week delayed the scheduled docking of a Russian Progress resupply capsule. That docking is now tentatively scheduled for sometime Wednesday, September 17.

For now, the ISS continues to be controlled by NASA flight controllers who were dispatched to Austin, TX and Huntsville, AL prior to the onset of the storm.

"It is too early to know what effect, if any, the hurricane will have on upcoming space shuttle launches," NASA added. The shuttle Atlantis sits on the pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, awaiting its planned October 10 launch to service the Hubble telescope.

The shuttle Endeavour, slated for its own mission to the ISS in November unless it's needed to lifeboat the Atlantis crew, is scheduled to move to the pad Thursday.

FMI: www.nasa.gov/shuttle

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