CAPE CANAVERAL - Johnson Space Center will reopen Monday after suffering what emergency crews deemed"extremely light" damage Saturday from Hurricane Rita.
The storm's shift to theeast Friday meant the Houston area did not get the worst of Rita's fierce windsor storm surge. A direct hit could have sent sea water as far inland as thespace center, near Galveston Bay.
NASA instructed governmentand contractor workers to check in today to find out whether they would be ableto return to duty Monday. A building-to-building damage assessment Saturdayfound mostly minor problems.
The center evacuatedWednesday as Rita appeared on course to barrel into Galveston Bay as an intense Category 4 or Category 5 hurricane.
JSC is home to 13,000 workers,including the astronaut corps and mission controllers. It is NASA's primecenter for design, development and testing of human spacecraft.
The shuttle andInternational Space Station programs are headquartered at JSC. Mission Control,where teams work around the clock watching over the space station and itstwo-man crew, shut down too. Primary control of the space station transferredto Russia's Mission Control Center outside Moscow.
Facilities at JSC are readyto reopen Monday. Still unknown is the status of thousands of workers and theirhomes.
Workers were to reporttheir location and personal situations to NASA on Saturday and today so theagency could assess what services could be restarted Monday.
Rita did no new damage tothe shuttle external tank factory in New Orleans, which has been closed sinceHurricane Katrina ravaged the city.
The Michoud tank factoryremains closed except to a small group of emergency personnel. NASA hopes toresume work on external tanks with a minimal number of employees as early asOct. 1.
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