NASA Employees Return to Flooded Space Center Post-Shutdown

Nicole S Glass/Shutterstock.com

Burst pipe spills water into lab, space hardware testing area and laser communications room.

The partial government shutdown claimed millions of victims, from the federal workers who missed paychecks to the citizens who faced delays in critical services. In at least one case, federal office space itself suffered significantly.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center employees returned to work this week with a surprise awaiting them at the Maryland facility virtually none of them had set foot inside for 35 days: much of the center was flooded. A pipe linked to the air conditioning burst during the shutdown, causing flooding in several work areas. In addition to those rooms, water damaged a robotics laboratory and the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration cleanroom areas. The Spacecraft Systems Development and Integration Facility used to “integrate and test space hardware” and a shipping and receiving area also saw water buildups.

NASA was forced to suck out all the water, replace ceiling and carpet tiles, dehumidify the work areas and sanitize work cubicles and chairs, according to Ray Rubilotta, deputy director of management operations at the Goddard center. Some phones and computers sustained damage and had to be replaced.

The work areas sustained the worst of the damage, while the staff at the lab, laser communication rooms and space hardware testing area primarily just had to remove water.

One individual aware of the flooding said NASA had to “pump thousands of gallons of water” as a result of the incident and a lot of equipment was damaged. Employees returned to the damaged work areas on Wednesday.

NASA employees join the National Park Service staff in returning to work and finding damage. NPS employees reported significant issues in parks throughout the country that largely remained open throughout the shutdown with little or no staff there to maintain them. 

Aaron Boyd contributed to this report

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