Johnson Space Center closed through Labor Day

Johnson Space Center closed through Labor Day

Tropical Storm Harvey as seen by the crew of the International Space Station on August 29, 2017.

NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik posted photos from the space station Monday that gave a view of the storm, high above the flooded streets of the Houston region. NASA's visitor center, Space Center Houston, will also remain closed but only through Friday, Sept. 1 unless officials decide otherwise.

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A 30-minute news conference with Whitson, who has been residing at the outpost since November 2016 and will return to Earth this weekend, was planned for August 30. Liftoff is scheduled for 5:17 p.m. EDT (21:17 GMT).

Hurricane Harvey has died down to tropical storm levels after making landfall on the Texas coast Friday night, but that doesn't mean the deluge is anywhere near over. It made a second landfall on August 30 near the Texas-Louisiana border, this time as a tropical storm with sustained winds of 45 miles per hour (73 km/h). Though Harvey has since been downgraded to a tropical storm, it has lingered, continuing to drench southeastern Texas and southern Louisiana with record-breaking rain that has caused catastrophic flooding. Preliminary economic losses are estimated to be between $10 billion to $160 billion. The center originally closed August 25 and will reopen Tuesday, Sept. 5.

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As seen from the International Space Station from another angle, Harvey is still extensive and on the move.

"While the vast majority of our workforce is safe, many have experienced severe flood damage, are without power and may need other assistance", JSC Director Ellen Ochoa, a former astronaut, said. The agency said that would "allow employees to avoid treacherous road conditions, and to attend to the needs of their families". As for that essential personnel, NASA reports that closing the center will allow its staff to focus on the landing of three International Space Station crew members in Kazakhstan. The next major station activity is September 2, when a Soyuz spacecraft carrying Whitson, Jack Fischer and Fyodor Yurchikhin leaves the station and lands in Kazakhstan.

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