Spaceflight Insider

Warnings issued for Hurricane Matthew as KSC closes down

Hurricane Frances inflicted damage to several KSC assets when it blew through in 2004. Photo Credit: NASA

Hurricane Frances inflicted damage to several KSC assets when it blew through in 2004. Photo Credit: NASA

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — KSC closed its doors at 1 p.m. EDT (17:00 GMT) on Wednesday, Oct. 5, as Hurricane Matthew wound its way up toward Florida out of the Caribbean. 

Mercury Redstone replica toppled over in the wake of Hurricane Frances in 2004. Photo Credit: NASA

Mercury Redstone replica toppled over in the wake of Hurricane Frances in 2004. Photo Credit: NASA

As of this writing, Matthew is a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 120 mph (193 km/h) and is about 70 miles north-northeast of Cabo Lucrecia, Cuba.

The space agency provided the following statement about its activities in advance of Matthew’s arrival: “Across the spaceport, essential personnel are preparing facilities for the storm’s arrival. Hurricane Matthew is expected to make its closest approach to the Cape Canaveral/Kennedy area overnight Thursday and into Friday morning, bringing with it the potential for heavy rain, storm surge and hurricane-force winds.”

After Matthew has passed over the Space Coast, NASA will assess what damage, if any, has occurred and then allow the civil and contractor workforce to return (after it has been determined that it is safe for them to do so).

NASA has good reason to take precautions. In 2004, Hurricane Frances caused damage to the exterior of the Vehicle Assembly Building as well as other facilities at KSC.

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station has progressed from Hurricane Condition IV to II in just the past 24 hours. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will be closed on Thursday, Oct. 6, and Friday, Oct. 7. Visitor complex officials anticipate reopening on Saturday, Oct. 8, at 9 a.m. after a thorough assessment of the property has been completed.

Governor Rick Scott has already issued a State of Emergency as Florida braces for Matthew’s arrival. This would mark the first time that a major hurricane has made landfall in Florida since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

The Kennedy Space Center codaphone, 321-867-2525will be updated periodically with Kennedy hurricane status.

 

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Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

Reader Comments

Most of the exterior panels on the VAB will be torn off if it gets hit by the eyewall of a Cat 3 hurricane. The formula is, Kinetic Energy = 1/2 X mass X velocity squared.
You would think that the US government would construct any building right on a coast subject to hurricanes, to withstand winds of 150 miles an hour. It doesn’t cost that much more to do it.
It reminds me of the levees they built to protect New Orleans after Hurricane Betsy flooded a lot of the city in 1965. Instead of doing it right, they decided to save money by cutting corners. They saved millions. Then Hurricane Katrina hit, which cost the taxpayers over $100 billion dollars in flood damages. Not to mention drowning 1,500 people.
I hope they built the buildings at least 15 feet above sea level. It couldn’t happen there, but Katrina came into Mississippi with a storm surge which reached 28 feet above sea level on the right side of the eye. It takes a lot of energy to lift billions of tons of water that high.

I would like to thank you for being able to differentiate NASA and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It never ceases to amaze me how all the websites, local news stations, news papers, and the rest of the news media are unable to do so. Even after fifty years of existence.

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