The Kennedy Space Center, from which every major manned mission to space has been launched, was spared the ravages of Hurricane Dorian, but just barely. Located on Merritt Island, Florida, about midway between Miami and Jacksonville, it is completely exposed to the high winds and storm surges hurricanes create. Management at the facility announced that Dorian had not created any major damage.
As Dorian passed to its east, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center @NASAKennedy tweeted:
It also said it was open for normal operations.
Dorian hit the Kennedy Space Center with sustained winds of 63 miles per hour, which peaked at 90 miles per hour. The storm’s closest approach was 70 miles as it moved northeast. NASA had 120 people man the facility. It also moved its most important rocket, the Mobile Launcher, into the protection of the Vehicle Assembly Building. Bob Cabana, director of the Kennedy Space Center, told CBS News about NASA’s preparation for the storm, “Right now, we’re looking at a Cat-4 hurricane, which is nothing to sneeze at. It’s predicted to come in a little south of us, which actually puts us on the wet side of the storm, the storm surge, which is a concern.”
Dorian was a real threat to the facility, which was damaged by both Hurricane Irma in 2017 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
A week before the storm, NASA did not think it might be so fortunate. Aside from the evacuation of personnel and movement of the Mobile Launcher, NASA began to offer updates of how much Dorian had affected the Kennedy Space Center.
The space center has been exposed to Atlantic storms for decades. It opened in 1949 as the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Its name was changed to the John F. Kennedy Space Center in 1963.
As the number and strength of hurricanes are forecast to increase over the next several years, the Kennedy Space Center will continue to be at risk. Some of the most powerful hurricanes of all time have come close to its location in Florida.