NASA's Johnson Space Center closed amid flood, but ISS operations continue

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-29 13:42:09|Editor: Yang Yi
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LOS ANGELES, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)'s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston remained closed on Monday to all but mission-critical staff, due to heavy rainfall caused by Hurricane Harvey, according to the space agency.

But the Mission Control continued operations, the agency added.

"While the vast majority of our workforce is safe, many have experienced severe flood damage, are without power and may need other assistance," JSC Director Ellen Ochoa, a former astronaut, said in a post on Monday.

The JSC in Houston has been closed to all non-critical staff from Sunday and will remain closed on Tuesday. The JSC Emergency Management said: "Center Closure Includes all Sites."

However, the Mission Control Center is "operational and fully capable of supporting the International Space Station (ISS) from Houston," according to NASA.

"Oh boy - looks like a ton of rain is about to unload. Here's a prayer for family, friends & everyone in #HurricaneHarvey's path--stay safe," astronaut Jack Fischer, who is currently in the ISS, posted photos of the storm when he orbited over hurricane Harvey.

Later, the ISS account shared pictures Fischer photographed from the station's six-sided observation dome.

"Wish I was up there and not down here," said JSC Director Ochoa who retweeted the images.

Tropical Storm Harvey is still causing catastrophic flooding in the Houston area, as NASA satellites saw the storm's center moving back into the Gulf of Mexico.

The National Weather Service extended the flash flood warning that includes the JSC area on Monday night.

The NASA facility covers 1,700 acres southeast of Houston. The center typically bustles with thousands of scientists, engineers, other staff and contractors, including flight controllers for the ISS.

Category 4 Hurricane Harvey made a landfall last Friday night in the coastal area of Texas. It later downgraded to a tropical storm. Torrential rain has been pouring down in the coastal area as well as Greater Houston, resulting in heavy flooding.

At least nine people have died statewide as a result of the storm, as floodwaters continue to turn streets into waterways and gush into buildings Monday, reports said.