NASA update: Mars projects at Michoud Facility appear undamaged by tornado

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Tornado damage to NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — NASA says the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft being built at the Michoud Facility in New Orleans East do not appear to be damaged after Tuesday’s tornado.

NASA crews have assessed the hardware of the two Mars projects and so far have not found any problems. They are still restoring power and light to the manufacturing building. Some workers have been allowed to resume working on the projects.

The Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft are important parts of NASA’s plans to explore deep space. The SLS will launch astronauts in the Orion spacecraft on the mission to Mars. NASA hopes to reach Mars in the 2030s.

Tuesday, an EF-3 tornado touched down near Old Gentilly Road and moved 10 miles through New Orleans East, hitting the Michoud Facility. The National Weather Service estimates that the tornado’s winds reached 150 mph at its strongest and at its widest spanned 600 yards. When it hit the Michoud Facility, the NWS says it may have been at EF-2 strength, collapsing a cinderblock wall at the facility.

The Michoud Facility is closed to everyone except security, emergency crews,  and approved employees this weekend.