One week after Space Science received more attention than it typically does in a year – for The Eclipse – NASA is facing one of it’s greatest tests on Earth.
As of 4:30 CST on Monday, August 28, Johnson Space Control (JSC) in Houston was shut down, for all but “Mission Essential Personnel,” and it was announced Tuesday that JSC would remain so through September 4th. The initial closure included Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base (Air Force, Reserve Reconnaissance), Sonny Carter Training Facility (NASA), and Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NASA, space walk training). Ellen Ochoa, former Astronaut, and director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center sent this message on Monday evening, which included the following:
“Yesterday we initiated the Emergency Notification System (ENS) for our civil servants. While we have heard from close to 90% of you, we are anxious to hear from the rest. We are working with our Joint Leadership Team for a status on our contractor workforce.”
To think ten percent of civil servants have not notified NASA, through Monday evening, that they are safe is scary in more ways than one. There has been no public update to this figure, to our knowledge.
For science, NASA continues to assure, if only in the headlines, that “Mission Control Continues Operations.” They have not made any current risks public and have cancelled scheduled media access to the Astronauts aboard the International Space Station.The Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center, operating the International Space Station, is located in a low-lying area along the coast. Responsibility for “Continuity of Operations” (COOP) falls with the NASA Emergency Management Program. They have not, themselves, issued any release on the risks to operations. Such a unit is expected to be well prepared for such a disaster, even though there are naturally no full-scale tests for preparedness. NASA does have the ability to transfer Space Station control off-site, but doing so has its own risks beyond convenience and cost, as indicated by their unwillingness to do so.
Written by Casey S. Schroeder for the Milwaukee Area Science Advocates. Casey is a regular contributor to MASA. More of his work can be found at atheoryof.me
If you are interested in supporting the Huston community during this difficult time, here are some of the organizations that are on the ground reacting to this tragedy:
From their homepage, “Team Rubicon unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams.” Donate to Team Rubicon USA.
All local food banks need assistance right now. Here are some local ones that you can assist:
TEXAS DIAPER BANK
It’s an easily forgotten issue but disaster relief agencies quickly run out of diapers during these events. The Texas Diaper Bank could use donations so that they can help out families displaced by the hurricane. Diapers are provided for infants, seniors, and individuals needing the assistance. Donate to Texas Diaper Bank.
Animals and evacuated pets are also in need of important assistance.