Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Tornado Damages NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility

Machinery is seen damaged in a parking lot at Michoud. Photo Credit: Steven Seipel / MAF / NASA

NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) was the site of a confirmed tornado strike on Tuesday Feb. 7 at 11:25 a.m. CST (12:25 p.m. EST / 17:25 GMT). So far, only minor injuries have been reported, and NASA is accounting for all of its personnel and contractors as well as assessing the damage caused by the storm.

Meanwhile, officials are continuing to monitor the weather and the agency’s emergency response team is assessing just how much damage the storm inflicted on the nearly 80-year-old facility.

Images appearing on the Space Alabama website show cars on their roof in one of the parking lots at the MAF. NASASpaceFlight.com has an image that appears to show the tornado touching down, with transformers arcing.

Michoud is where NASA is manufacturing the space agency’s massive new super-heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System. The MAF, which is located near New Orleans, spans an impressive 832 acres (3.37 square kilometers).

As of this writing, it is unclear what, if any, damage might have been done to the rockets that are currently under development (the first of these is being prepared for Exploration Mission 1, currently slated to take place in late 2018).

The MAF was used during World War II for the construction of C-76 cargo planes. During the Korean War, it was used to construct engines for Sherman and Patton tanks. Then, in 1961, NASA took over control of the facility.

During the Space Shuttle Program, the MAF was where the large, rust-colored External Tanks that the orbiter used on its 135 missions were produced.

Written by: Jason Rhian
Original source: spaceflightinsider.com

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