Volume: 02, Issue: 14 09/08/2004 
The above photo of Hurricane Frances was taken by Astronaut Mike Fincke aboard the International Space Station on Sept. 1, 2004. Photo courtesy NASA.
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About 820 panels were torn off KSC's landmark facility, the massive Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). Photo courtesy NASA.
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The interior of the Thermal Protection System (TPS) Facility, where Space Shuttle tiles and blankets are made, was exposed after a large section of roof was torn off by the storm. Photo courtesy NASA.
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Other Articles in This Issue:
Kick off the 2004-05 School Year with the Planetary Times
Genesis Space Capsule Slams into Desert Floor
Scientists Discover New Class of Extrasolar Planets
Cassini Unlocking Saturn’s Secrets
NASA Offers Science Competitions for Students
 

Hurricane Frances Leaves Her Mark

Hurricane Frances has left devastating scars across Florida and surrounding regions, causing billions of dollars in damage and taking the lives of at least seven people. As residents slowly begin to assess and repair the damage caused by the vicious storm, staff at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Fla. are working steadily to get the center back up and running after the storm.

"The Kennedy Space Center suffered significant damage as Hurricane Frances swept across Florida. However, our primary concern is for the safety and well being of the entire NASA family along the Space Coast,” said NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe in a statement. “The storm forced thousands of people to seek shelter away from their homes, and we want to make sure our colleagues and their families get the help they need in the coming days and weeks to rebuild their lives.”

Thankfully, after a review of the damages at KSC, there was no indication of damage to Space Shuttles Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour. Spaceflight hardwares and spares also avoided damage, and there were no reports of injuries to any KSC employees. Numerous buildings and center infrastructure, however, sustained considerable wind and rain damage. KSC will remain closed to most personnel until September 13, while damage assessments and repairs continue.

"Our initial feeling is we dodged a real bullet," said Kennedy Space Center Director Jim Kennedy. "Even though this was the worst storm ever to hit KSC, I feel very fortunate."

Electric and phone services have been restored to most of the center. Preliminary assessments of the center's two launch pads indicate they're in good shape. The SWIFT spacecraft, which is scheduled for launch early next month, also appears fine, but the building where it rode out the storm did sustain damage.

Assessment of KSC's landmark facility, the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), shows about 820 panels were torn off during the storm. In some places, exterior panels and underlying sub-panels are missing, leaving the interior of the building exposed to the elements. There are several holes, including one estimated to be 50 feet by 50 feet, in the building. Engineers are continuing their damage assessment, but initial review of the VAB's interior indicates no serious damage to equipment, including two Space Shuttle External Tanks.

Also suffering significant damage was the Thermal Protection System Facility, where Space Shuttle tile and blankets are manufactured. The facility's roof is partially torn off, and there is significant wall damage. Work is underway to recover critical spaceflight material, such as tile molds, from exposed areas.

Information about Frances and the NASA Family Assistance Fund is available at the following websites:
http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/frances.html
http://www.feea.org/nasa.shtml

    
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