NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Closes as Deadly Hurricane Irma Targets Direct Hit on Florida Forcing Millions to Evacuate

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Closes as Deadly Hurricane Irma Targets Direct Hit on Florida Forcing Millions to Evacuate

Storm clouds from looming Cat 4 Hurricane Irma obscure the view of the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building and Launch Complex 39A as seen from Titusville, forcing NASA to close the Kennedy Space Center until the storm passes. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

TITUSVILLE/CAPE CANAVERAL – NASA and Air Force officials have ordered the closure of the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as deadly Cat 4 Hurricane Irma relentlessly targets a direct hit on Florida and forces millions of residents and tourists to evacuate catastrophic consequences coming tonight, Saturday, Sept. 9 and throughout the weekend.

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex also announced its closure.

The Florida Space Coast base and Visitor Complex closings were ordered just hours after SpaceX successfully launched the secretive X-37B military spaceplane to orbit for the U.S. Air Force on a Falcon 9 rocket from historic pad 39A on the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, Sept. 7.

“NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is closing Friday, Sept. 8 through at least Monday, Sept. 11, due to the approach of Hurricane Irma, KSC officials said.

“Irma could potentially bring heavy rain and strong winds to the spaceport. Essential personnel will make final preparations to secure center facilities and infrastructure.”

“This is a deadly major storm,” said Florida Gov. Rick Scott at an update briefing today. “Our state has never seen anything like it.”

18 million people are currently under Hurricane warnings throughout Florida and the dire warnings from the Governor have been nothing short of catastrophic.

Here’s the latest Hurricane storm track from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) updated to Saturday, Sept 9.

Hurricane Irma Cone forecast on Sept. 9, 2017 from the National Hurricane Center. Credit: NHC

Only a ride out team of roughly 130 or so KSC personnel will remain on site to monitor spaceport facilities over the weekend and beyond.

“We’re closed until further notice except for Ride-Out Team. Stay safe!”

“Ride-Out Team to remain in place until #Irma passes.”

Both KSC and the Cape’s Air Force Base will be closed until Irma passes and until further notice and the facilities are deemed safe.

“After the storm has left the area, Kennedy’s Damage Assessment and Recovery Team will evaluate all center facilities and infrastructure for damage. The spaceport will reopen after officials determine it is safe for employees to return.”

USAF X-37B military mini-shuttle lifts off at 10 a.m. EDT Sept. 7, 2017 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

State officials also ordered the mandatory evacuation of the Cape’s surrounding barrier islands including Merritt Island which is home to the space center and Cocoa Beach, as of Friday at 3 p.m. EDT.

Strong wind gusts and heavy downpours have already drenched Titusville and other local Space Coast cities periodically today, Sat., Sept 9.

Storm clouds from looming Cat 4 Hurricane Irma obscure the view of the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building and Launch Complex 39A as seen from Titusville, forcing NASA to close the Kennedy Space Center until the storm passes. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

As I write this late Saturday, Sept. 9, Irma is just hours and less than 100 miles away from striking the Florida Keys with a predicted impact of an unsurvivable storm surge.

The eye is currently off the north coast of Cuba and moving in a northwesterly direction.

Monster storm Irma is the size of Texas. The outer bands are already lashing the Florida Keys.

“Millions of Floridians will see major impacts with DEADLY DEADLY DEADLY storm surge and life threatening winds,” elaborated Gov. Scott.

“There is a serious threat of significant storm surge flooding along the entire west coast of Florida.

This has increased to 15 feet of impact above ground level.”

“Think about that. 15 feet is devastating and will cover your house. A typical first story is 7 to 10 feet. The storm surge will rush in and could kill you.”

“This is a life threatening situation,” warned Scott. “Central Florida is under a hurricane warning and will see dangerous and life threatening wind and torrential rainfall of more than a foot. Rainfall has already started and wind will begin tonight.”

“We could also see tornadoes.”

90+ MPH wind gusts are expected virtually statewide.

Widespread power outages are expected.

As a precaution Scott already ordered all schools and government offices closed statewide until further notice.

Florida shelters are filling up in some areas and overflowing in others.

Finding open gas stations is problematical because many are now closing

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite X-37B OTV-5 and NASA mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

The post NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Closes as Deadly Hurricane Irma Targets Direct Hit on Florida Forcing Millions to Evacuate appeared first on Universe Today.

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