Press Release

House Commends Employees of NASA’s Michoud Facility for Dedicated Service During Katrina

By SpaceRef Editor
July 24, 2006
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House Commends Employees of NASA’s Michoud Facility for Dedicated Service During Katrina

WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives today passed by voice vote, H. Res 892, a resolution commending the dedicated employees of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Michoud Assembly Facility, the “Michoud Hurricane Ride-Out Team”, who risked their lives during Hurricane Katrina’s assault on southeast Louisiana.

Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) made the following statement [Subcommittee Chairman Calvert’s statement follows]:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Res. 892, as amended, which recognizes the dedicated employees of NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility, the “Michoud Hurricane Ride-out Team.”

Knowing full well the potential for disaster, and the impending danger they faced as Hurricane Katrina bore down on the Gulf Coast, 38 dedicated and heroic individuals put themselves in harm’s way to save the Michoud Assembly Facility, which is of vital importance to our Nation’s civil space program.

Located just 15 miles from New Orleans’s French Quarter, this facility is where NASA constructs the Space Shuttle’s External Tanks. Before the Shuttle, this facility was where NASA manufactured the gargantuan tanks on the Saturn rocket that took us to the Moon. In the future, NASA plans to use the facility to construct the rockets that will return us to the Moon.

These 38 brave employees risked life and limb to protect this valuable facility that ensures our Nation’s preeminence in space. Facing 178 mile-per-hour winds that ripped large chunks of surrounding buildings clean off, the intrepid Ride-Out Team kept to its motto: “Not on Our Watch.”

By keeping generators and water pumps running throughout the storm, they managed to prevent the facility from flooding and preserved important flight hardware that has kept the space program on track.

Because of the Ride-Out Team’s efforts, the facility was up and running only a few weeks after the storm had passed. After just three months, nearly all 2,000 employees had returned to the facility despite the fact that 600 of them had lost their own homes.

By saving the facility, and returning it to operation as quickly as they did, they were able to get to work right away on External Tank modifications necessary for the second Return-to-Flight mission that took place this month.

Many of these individuals have rightly earned NASA’s Exceptional Bravery Medal from NASA Administrator Michael Griffin already, but they are also worthy of the House’s commendation as well.

So, I once again rise in strong support of this much over-due resolution, because as Michael Griffin stated earlier this year, “not all of NASA’s hero’s fly in space.”

Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA) made the following statement:

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H. Res. 892, which recognizes the dedication of the employees at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Michoud Assembly Facility. The end of next month is the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall on our Gulf coast. Today we celebrate the bravery exhibited by the “Michoud Hurricane Ride-out Team,” which saved not only the facility, but also our Nation’s manned space program.

Last week, both Houses of Congress passed H. Con. Res. 448, which commended the men and women of NASA, the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery, and NASA Administrator Mike Griffin for the successful conclusion of the second return to flight test mission-STS-121. This would not have been possible without the thirty-eight brave members of the Michoud Ride-out Team. Many of the members of this team lost their homes and did not know the fate of their families until days after the Hurricane. They risked their lives manning generators and pumps at the Michoud Facility to protect the Shuttle’s external tank program and, hence, the future of the manned space program.

Despite the Facility’s proximity to the center of the hurricane’s destructive path, only one external tank was damaged when a concrete panel fell and bounced off the side of the tank. Despite the extensive damage to the 832 acre facility and the entire surrounding area, the Ride-out team exhibited the bravery and the pride for the importance of the space program not only to our Nation, but also to the area in Louisiana.

In September, as Chairman of the House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee, I am planning to travel to both the Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana and the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. I am looking forward to meeting some of these brave individuals, both at Michoud and at Stennis. Since I became the Chairman of this Subcommittee in 2005, I have visited 7 of NASA’s 10 facilities around the country. I am looking forward to visiting and to learning even more of the importance of these NASA centers to our Nation’s space program. Today, I want to extend thanks and gratitude from the American people for the outstanding work of these brave individuals at both the Michoud Assembly Facility and at the Stennis Space Center.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SpaceRef staff editor.