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NASA Kennedy Buttons Up Operations Before Hurricane Ian

Satellite image of Hurricane Ian

With Hurricane Ian’s track targeting Florida from the Gulf of Mexico, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is making preparations across all its programs to ride out the storm. The center declared Hurricane Condition IV at 9 a.m. on Sept. 26, meaning winds of 58 mph are expected within 72 hours.

The hurricane is expected to make landfall between Wednesday, Sept. 28, and Thursday, Sept. 29, in the “big bend” area, where Florida’s panhandle joins its western coast. Seven to 10 inches of rain are predicted at Kennedy, and sustained tropical storm force winds are expected to reach the center beginning as early as the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 28.

“The safety of our workforce and protection of our infrastructure is our primary focus right now,” said Center Director Janet Petro. “This hurricane just happens to be coming at the busiest time of the year for us as we were preparing for the Artemis I and Crew-5 launches. Since late last week, the programs and partners on center have been monitoring the storm and making preparations, and those activities are continuing.”

Ongoing hurricane preparedness activities include:

  • Artemis I, NASA’s uncrewed mission around the Moon in preparation for future crewed missions, has been at Launch Complex 39B since Aug. 17 in anticipation of launch on Sept. 27 or Oct. 2. Teams have decided to roll the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft back to the Vehicle Assembly Building to protect it from possible lightning, damaging winds, and possible debris. The eight to 12-hour transit is expected to begin at approximately 11 p.m. on Sept. 26. NASA will post updates to the Artemis blog.
  • The Commercial Crew Program is continuing to monitor how the storm may affect the launch of NASA SpaceX’s Crew-5, which will send the next rotation of crew, cargo, and experiments to the International Space Station. Launch is currently targeting Oct. 3. NASA will post updates to the Crew-5 blog.
  • NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) is preparing the Psyche spacecraft to weather the storm. The spacecraft, designed to explore an asteroid bearing the same name, arrived at Kennedy in April. LSP recently secured Psyche in its shipping container inside the airlock at the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility.
  • Center-wide, other programs are securing their facilities to protect equipment and commodities and to prevent loose objects from becoming projectiles during the storm. The center leadership team continues holding Emergency Decision Team meetings daily, or as needed, with program leads and partners to coordinate activities and stay ahead of the storm. Kennedy’s Emergency Operations Center is the focal point for coordination and response. If the spaceport closes, NASA Civil Service employees with telework agreements, that can safely perform work, are expected to continue working at their telework/remote locations. Also, a small Ride-Out Team of people from across the center’s programs would reside on Kennedy for the duration of the storm to keep essential infrastructure operational and to perform initial damage assessment once the storm passes.

Visit Kennedy’s center operational status webpage for more information.