Melissa Mathews
Headquarters, Washington
(Phone: 202/358-1272)

Jessica Rye
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
(Phone: 321/867-2468)
Sept. 16, 2004
RELEASE : 04-301
Kennedy Space Center Recovers from Hurricane Frances
Approximately 14,000 people returned to work at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) this week, following an 11-day closure due to Hurricane Frances.

During the closure, the KSC Damage Assessment and Recovery Team (DART) completed initial damage assessments. KSC weathered sustained winds greater than 70 mph and gusts as high as 94 mph. A thorough assessment of KSC's 900 facilities and buildings continues and could take weeks or months to complete.

NASA's three Space Shuttles, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour, the Shuttle launch pads and critical flight hardware for the orbiters and the International Space Station, were not damaged by the storm. Also, the SWIFT spacecraft in Hangar AE on the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was unharmed.

The Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), the Thermal Protection System Facility (TPSF) and the Processing Control Center (PCC) received significant damage. The Operations and Checkout Building, Vertical Processing Facility, Hangar AE, Hangar S, and Hangar AF Small Parts Facility received 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 was also damaged. There was no damage to the two External Tanks stored inside or to the Shuttle Columbia debris housed on the 16th floor of the A Tower.

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 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, lost nearly 35 percent of its roof. This caused significant water damage, making the second floor where the blankets are sewn unusable for processing activities. Critical equipment has been moved 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 had 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 installing a temporary roof
  • Clean-up and water removal activities are well under way
  • Grid is complete at the hangar, so 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

    The PCC processes the Shuttle's software and houses numerous KSC computers and networks. Although the facility lost a significant part of its roof and had water damage, hurricane preparations, helped minimize damage to electronic equipment.

    PCC Recovery Efforts
  • Temporary roof installed
  • Clean-up and water removal activities are well under way
  • Wet tiles removed from the facility, so work stations and offices can be cleaned

    Hurricane preparations began on Aug. 30 to protect KSC facilities and flight hardware from the storm that arrived over the Labor Day weekend. KSC Director Jim Kennedy closed the center Sept. 2 to non-essential personnel. Once the hurricane passed, DART personnel entered the center on Sept. 6. The center reopened on Sept. 13.

    For information about NASA and hurricane images on the Internet, visit:


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