Did Katrina Kill The Shuttle?

Or at least that's the doomsday scenario being floated around lately. The place to watch is the Michoud Assembly Facility in N.O. that builds the external tank for the Shuttle. The theory being, that if Katrina caused sufficient damage to this facility, it could lead to an earlier retirement of the Shuttle. Although there are 10 or so ET's in inventory, it may be decided that the costs in repairing the facility may be too high to justify more Shuttle launches beyond that point...

Apparently that doomsday scenario may have just become true:
Its storm surge swamped the Michoud Assembly Facility with as much as 2 feet of water. Electrical power and communications were knocked out. Water service was interrupted.

The Lockheed Martin factory will remain closed until at least Tuesday, but it might take several weeks to restore power, communications and other utilities. It's also uncertain how soon workers will be able to return.

Plans to ship three tanks -- including the one for NASA's next mission -- back to Michoud for retrofitting are on indefinite hold.

Now there are plenty of more important things to worry about about in this disaster. The loss of life, and the destruction of people's properties and livehoods are immeasurable. Everything needs to be done that can be done by all parties involved. And I don't mean to belittle the suffering or pain experienced by those involved.

But it may be that something good may actually come out of this situation - the end of the disastrously overaged, dangerous, expensive Shuttle program (at least one can hope).

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