Cape Canaveral appears to have survived Hurricane Matthew in one piece, according to NASA officials.
As the hurricane geared to hit, NASA was worried that the site would be directly in the storm’s path and might suffer severe damage. The center’s staff was reduced to a skeleton crew that would right out the hurricane, and the park was closed to visitors for safety, Christian Science Monitor reports.
But the winds quite literally shifted away from the complex and Hurricane Matthew weakened as it veered off. Upon immediate assessment of Cape Canaveral, the skeleton crew reported that the vicious weather had produced only minimal damage, allowing the center to partially reopen its gates.
Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, commander of the 45th Space Wing, posted that,
We dodged a bit of a bullet last night with things shifting to the east and the storm being less intense overall.
The massive complex contains several of NASA’s launch pads, office buildings and the Vehicle Assembly Building, which was made for the creation of the humongous Saturn V rocket. It might take a while to complete damage assessment, but all preliminary reports appear to be on the good side.
George Diller from the Kennedy Space Center was part of the crew left at the Launch Control Center during the hurricane. He said that if the storm had hit directly, the damage would have been “more critical.”
The KSC was built right on the water – a decisions made when the program was initially started, in order to minimize the effects any catastrophic incidents might have on civilians, who can watch when spacecraft blast off.
After Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992, changes were made to the complex to make everything sturdier and more resistant to Florida’s tempestuous weather conditions. These measures included building designs that would withstand winds of up to 135 miles per hour. Unfortunately, Hurricane Frances made matchsticks of the structures in 2004, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.
The KSC re-opens for guests today, with certain areas roped off from the public for inspection.