With the worst of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey having occurred, millions of people are now assessing the destruction left by the storms, including officials at NASA. Both the Johnson Space Center in Houston and the Kennedy Space Center near Cape Canaveral, Florida, have suffered damage, according to NASA reports.
the Johnson Space Center was affected by flood waters, according to a Tweet from the site’s official Twitter account.
The Mission Control Center remained operational throughout the storms, according to NASA spokesman William Jeffs, who told Newsweek that Harvey did not cause any major problems for the site.
“We experienced some flooding during the heaviest rains, especially early when the storm hit,” says Jeffs. “The main campus buildings did not flood.”
The Johnson Space Center reopened September 5.
Johnson’s Sonny Carter Training Facility, used for pre-flight activities and for designing future programs, did suffer damage from the flooding, as did its video and photo labs.
One of the biggest areas of concern was protecting the James Webb Space Telescope, currently housed at the Johnson Space Center. Set to launch in October 2018, the project took 20 years to build, cost roughly $8.7 billion and will be even more powerful than the Hubble Telescope, reports Space.com.
Jeffs says the Telescope is just fine, and that the team in Houston did extensive testing to ensure it would be safe.
“It’s in that thermal vacuum chamber, so it did not have any damage,” explains Jeff. “We actually had generators that we tested beforehand, so they were available for backup, and we actually didn’t need them.”
An earlier tweet from the NASA Webb Telescope Twitter account indicated that no damage had occurred.
In Florida, the Kennedy Space Center remains closed, according to a notice on the center’s site and a NASA official. In an email, Gregory Harland, who works on the mission controls team, said Kennedy will remain closed at least through Thursday. Harland writes that a decision has not yet been made on whether the center will reopen Friday.
Another report says the center received a variety of damage and is currently without water, though power was restored on September 11. In the email, Harland explains, "A damage assessment report will be compiled over the next several weeks after a full inspection of the Center has been conducted."
He said anyone interested in viewing aerial photos assessing damage can visit the NASA website.
An update from the center's site on September 11 states, “The utility reports that Irma caused no less than 37 breaks to its system on the mainland alone and are not expected to be repaired for 2 to 4 days.”