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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