NASA Michoud Assembly Facility Recovering from Tornado

Recovery operations are underway at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans where a tornado touched down on February 7, 2017. Emergency personnel have secured the perimeter including repairing fences and are continuing to assess damage to buildings and structures. Credits: NASA/Jude Guidry.
Recovery operations are underway at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans where a tornado touched down on February 7, 2017. Emergency personnel have secured the perimeter including repairing fences and are continuing to assess damage to buildings and structures. Credits: NASA/Jude Guidry.

By Stephanie Schierholz (NASA HQ) and Kim Newton (Marshall Space Flight Center)

Teams at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans worked overnight and are continuing Wednesday with assessment and recovery efforts following a tornado strike at the facility Tuesday.

Michoud remains closed to all but security and emergency operations crews. Temporary flight restrictions are in place over the area to ensure recovery and operations crews can complete their work without interference from other drones or low-flying aircraft. All Michoud personnel are accounted for, and no new injuries have been reported.

“The entire NASA family pulls together during good times and bad, and the teams at the Michoud Assembly Facility are working diligently to recover from the severe weather that swept through New Orleans Tuesday and damaged the facility,” said acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot. “We are thankful for the safety of all the NASA employees and workers of onsite tenant organizations, and we are inspired by the resilience of Michoud as we continue to assess the facility’s status.”

Teams worked through the night on temporary repairs to secure the perimeter fencing and provide access for the essential personnel through the main gate. Approximately 40 to 50 percent of the buildings at Michoud have some kind of damage; about five buildings have some form of severe damage.

Efforts Wednesday are focused on completing damage assessments and restoring power to buildings that are in the best condition, including the main NASA administration building, boiler house, and US Coast Guard facilities. Power was restored to the east master substation, and it will be used to begin methodically and safely restoring power to buildings. The west master substation sustained some damage that will need to be repaired before it can begin receiving power.

Teams will reassess the condition of the Vertical Assembly Center (VAC), as the initial examination revealed some electrical damage to its substation. The VAC is used to weld all major pieces of hardware for the core stage of the Space Launch System. The most recently welded part was removed from the facility last week.

The team has prioritized completing the assessment at the site’s main manufacturing building for the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft flight hardware so power can be restored in phases and temporary protection put in place to shield hardware from any further inclement weather.

For more information about Michoud, visit www.nasa.gov/michoud.

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