When Hurricane Katrina came ashore 10 years ago, not only did the Category 4 storm do catastrophic damage to cities along the Gulf Coast, it also endangered the operations of two NASA facilities that were critical to the Space Shuttle Program.

On Tuesday, Nov. 3, at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, David Throckmorton will present “In the Eye of the Storm: Hurricane Katrina — The NASA Experience” at 2 p.m. in the Pearl Young Theater. Throckmorton was deputy director of NASA’s Stennis Space Center – located less than 50 miles from New Orleans – when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast.

Throckmorton will be available to answer questions from the media during a news briefing at 1:15 p.m. that day. Media who wish to do so should contact Chris Rink at 757-864-6786, or by e-mail at chris.rink@nasa.gov, by noon on the day of the talk for credentials and entry to the center.

That same evening at 7:30, Throckmorton will present a similar program for the general public at the Virginia Air & Space Center in downtown Hampton. This Sigma Series event is free and no reservations are required.

The large external fuel tanks of the space shuttle launch system were manufactured at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, and all ground testing of space shuttle main engines was performed at the NASA Stennis Space Center in southern Mississippi. Extreme damage from Hurricane Katrina to these facilities could have brought an end to the shuttle program and set back U.S. human spaceflight for years.

With first-hand anecdotes in the aftermath of the storm, Throckmorton will describe the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the NASA facilities, their employees, the surrounding communities and the NASA response.

With a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech and a master’s degree from George Washington University – both in aerospace engineering – Throckmorton’s 41-year NASA career included 34 years at Langley. His research included hypersonic wind-tunnel tests to determine the thermal protection requirements of the space shuttle on its return from space, was one of NASA’s principal interpreters of flight data from the Orbital Flight Test missions of the space shuttle Columbia, and was the principal investigator for two shuttle-borne entry flight experiments.

Throckmorton served as head of Langley’s Space Transportation Programs Office and as deputy director of Engineering at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

For more information about NASA Langley’s Colloquium and Sigma Series Lectures, visit: