NASA Spaceport Sends Vital Supplies to Gulf Coast Centers

NASA Spaceport Sends Vital Supplies to Gulf Coast Centers
At the NASA Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility, employees load hurricane relief supplies onto a NASA aircraft bound for Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and Michoud Assesmbly Facility near New Orleans, which suffered damage from Hurricane Katrina. (Image credit: NASA/KSC.)

CAPE CANAVERAL - Ahurricane relief flight took off from Kennedy Space Center on Wednesdaycarrying parts critical to turning the power back on at the space shuttleexternal tank factory in New Orleans.

A NASA jet delivered 10precious outdoor electrical distribution switches, which are nearly impossibleto buy in powerless New Orleans. The parts, readily available on warehouseshelves in Brevard County, are expected to be enough to finish setting up a patchworksystem to restore electricity at the Michoud Assembly Facility.

That's not all KSC issending to hurricane-battered NASA facilities in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Workers loaded the airplane-- and a moving truck -- with boxloads of fresh clothes, food, toiletries andother provisions desperately needed by colleagues who are trying to revive NASAfacilities while dealing with their own tragedies. The shipments are bound forStennis Space Center in Mississippi, then on to the tank factory.

"We can't fly withouttheir support," said Wayne Kee, emergency preparedness officer at KSC, whowent on the flight Wednesday. The engine testing at Stennis and tank buildingat Michoud "is vital to returning to flight again."

Shuttle flights areindefinitely delayed while the agency gets the two facilities up and runningand continues investigating the lingering problem of dangerous foam debrisfalling off the external tank in flight.

The jet also took two KSCsecurity agents to relieve exhausted colleagues assigned to guard both NASAcenters.

"We don't deserve anyextra recognition. This is our job," said agent Roger Langevin, of MerrittIsland, before toting his suitcase, a sleeping bag and a pillow onto theGulfstream corporate jet.

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John Kelly is the director of data journalism for ABC-owned TV stations at Walt Disney Television. An investigative reporter and data journalist, John covered space exploration, NASA and aerospace as a reporter for Florida Today for 11 years, four of those on the Space Reporter beat. John earned a journalism degree from the University of Kentucky and wrote for the Shelbyville News and Associated Press before joining Florida Today's space team. In 2013, John joined the data investigation team at USA Today and became director of data journalism there in 2018 before joining Disney in 2019. John is a two-time winner of the Edward R. Murrow award in 2020 and 2021, won a Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting in 2020 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting in 2017. You can follow John on Twitter.