WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As Hurricane Dorian progresses on a course that is expected to smash the Florida Peninsula within days, US space agencies and airlines are protecting millions of dollars in hardware and assets along the Space Coast.
FILE PHOTO: A Rocket Mobile Launching Platform Space Launch System is in the vehicle assembly building during a NASA event "Apollo – Then and Now" at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA on May 23 see. 2019. REUTERS / Joe Skipper
Dorian, who is expected to become a Category 4 storm in the Atlantic with wind speeds in excess of 130 miles per hour (209 kilometers per hour), could fly past dozens of launch pads, which belong to NASA, the US Air Force, and companies such as Elon Musks SpaceX and Jeff Bezos & # 39; Blue Origin start around Monday.
Governor Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency for all of Florida. The Miami-based National Hurricane Center describes Category 4 storms as "catastrophic damage," including severe damage to well-built homes. NASA's Kennedy Space Center announced Thursday that it will move its 122-meter, 650-million-dollar, mobile launch vehicle structure to launch the lunar launch mission rocket from a launch pad into the 526-foot-tall Vehicle Assembly Building is mounted (160 m) high complex that withstands wind speeds of up to 200 km / h. "Is it bulletproof for a Category 4? We do not know because nothing was hit so hard, "said Derroll Nail, a spokesperson for the NASA center, about the building, which consists of over 8,000 tons of steel. "We've seen it perform with minimal damage in storms between 100 and 110 miles per hour.
" This thing is an incredibly strong steel cage. "
The Cape Canaveral Space Center announced that it would be on Sunday with a Skeleton's team of around 100 employees would be closed, leaving behind in the takeoff control room to monitor the storm and the aerospace assets.
"Everyone has their procedures to let them know what to do and how They must respond and adapt, "said Dale Ketcham, vice president of government relations at Space Florida, the state-run space-based economic development agency, to Reuters," because it's stupid to be more cavalier in your people and your capital investment in preparing for a hurricane. "
A spokeswoman for Boeing-Lockheed's Joint Venture United Launch Alliance, with its Rockets national security satellites are launched, said the staff has begun this week with the security of rocket hardware and its facilities can withstand wind speeds of over 200 km / h.
A SpaceX spokesperson who owns two launch ramps on the coast said it is taking steps to protect employees and facilities.
The US Air Force Base at Cape Canaveral, Florida, said it had shut off power to non-essential facilities and urged residents of the base to prepare for possible hurricane winds.
Reporting by Joey Roulette in Washington; Edited by Bill Tarrant and Grant McCool