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Jessica Rye                                                                                                        September 16, 2004
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
(Phone: 321/867-9284)

KSC Release: 68-04

KSC Continues With Hurricane Recovery and Damage Assessments

Kennedy Space Center's nearly 14,000 employees returned to work this week, following an 11-day closure of the Center for Hurricane Frances. During the closure, the Damage Assessment and Recovery Team (DART) worked on-site to determine the extent of damage from the storm, which brought sustained winds greater than 70 mph and gusts as high as 94 mph.

The DART has completed its initial damage assessments, and a thorough assessment of KSC's 900 facilities and buildings is ongoing. The full assessment could take weeks or months to complete.

"We have a great deal of work in front of us," said KSC Associate Director Jim Hattaway. "We have a tremendous team dedicated to returning the Center and its facilities to a condition to support International Space Station and Expendable Launch Vehicle processing activities, as well as a safe Return to Flight of the Space Shuttle."

NASA's three Space Shuttle orbiters -- Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour -- along with the Shuttle launch pads and all of the critical flight hardware for the orbiters and the International Space Station, remained well protected and sustained no damage. Also, the SWIFT spacecraft in Hangar AE on the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was placed into its shipping container before the hurricane and was unharmed.

The Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), the Thermal Protection System Facility (TPSF) and the Processing Control Center (PCC) felt the most effect from the hurricane and received significant damage. Additionally, the Operations and Checkout Building, Vertical Processing Facility, Hangar AE, Hangar S and Hangar AF Small Parts Facility sustained substantial damage.

The VAB lost nearly 850 aluminum panels (14 feet by 6 feet each) on the exterior of the building, leaving approximately 20 percent of the interior open to outside conditions. The roof of the VAB also saw considerable damage. There was no damage to the two External Tanks stored inside, or to the Columbia debris which is housed on the 16th floor of the A Tower. A thorough inspection of the damaged area is under way.

VAB Recovery Efforts

* Netting was placed above flight hardware to ensure no additional debris would fall and cause damage
* Roof was inspected and is safe for contractors to begin the repairs
* High-crew rigging was moved to the south side for workers to begin inspection, panel replacement and repair

The TPSF, where all of the orbiter Thermal Protection System tiles and blankets are manufactured, saw nearly 35 percent of its roof removed by the high winds experienced during the hurricane. This caused significant water damage, making the second floor where the blankets are sewn unusable for processing activities and uninhabitable. Critical equipment has been temporarily relocated from the TPSF to a hangar at the Shuttle Landing Facility so processing can resume as soon as possible. The first floor of the TPSF saw some water intrusion, but none of the critical manufacturing elements, such as the ovens, were damaged. Tile manufacturing should resume as early as next week.

TSPF Recovery Efforts

* Workers are currently installing a temporary roof
* Clean-up and water removal activities are well under way
* Grid is complete at the hangar so that workers can begin to process TPS blankets
* The equipment from the second floor, as well as the raw materials needed to manufacture the blankets, was moved to the hangar

Another facility that saw extensive damage was the PCC. The PCC processes the Space Shuttle software, and houses numerous computers and networks for the Center. Although the facility lost a significant part of its roof and saw extensive water damage, the hurricane preparations that workers completed included plastic sheeting that helped minimize damage to electronic equipment located inside. Many employees were relocated until their offices can be returned to a safe and restored condition.

PCC Recovery Efforts

* Temporary roof installed
* Clean-up and water removal activities are well under way
* Wet tiles are being removed from the facility so that work stations and offices can be cleaned

Hurricane preparations began on Aug. 30 to protect KSC facilities and flight hardware for the storm that arrived Labor Day weekend. Center Director Jim Kennedy closed KSC Sept. 2 to all but essential personnel, allowing employees to prepare their own homes and evacuate with their families if necessary. The Center remained closed until Sept. 13.

Once the hurricane had passed, DART personnel entered the Center on Sept. 6. They toured the hardest-hit facilities to make initial damage assessments and determine the steps needed to immediately secure the buildings most impacted by Hurricane Frances. Significant work remains to fully assess the extent of damage to the total compliment of facilities, equipment and supporting infrastructure. Additional damage is being identified daily as the assessment progresses.

 

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