Speed Reads

hurricane harvey

NASA staff are trapped at Houston's Johnson Space Center

NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston — as in, "Houston, we have a problem" — is surrounded by the floodwaters of Tropical Storm Harvey, but its own facilities, located on high ground and equipped with large generators, are so far unharmed. "I am [safe] but we are on an island apparently," tweeted flight director Royce Renfrew on Sunday, adding that he'd seen "video of high water rescues half a mile from here" and had "no way out" of the space center for the time being.

Many essential staff weathered the storm at the space center over the weekend, maintaining contact with the International Space Station. "All right, you guys have got photos of Harvey on SSC-21 if you like," an ISS astronaut radioed down Sunday, but the nearly empty Houston center didn't have the staff on hand to process the photos. "Copy, photos of Harvey on SSC-21," Houston replied. "We do not have an ops plan on this shift because of Harvey, ironically, so we will get them when we can."

The Johnson Space Center will only be open for "Mission Essential Personnel" on Monday; after that, NASA will evaluate the situation daily as flooding subsides.