Kennedy Space Center remains closed after hurricane

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Updated 12:25 p.m. Eastern with extension of center’s closure.

WASHINGTON — NASA’s Kennedy Space Center will remain closed through at least Sept. 14 as teams continue to evaluate damage there caused by Hurricane Irma.

In a statement late Sept. 12, NASA said the center on Florida’s Space Coast will be closed through at least Sept. 13 to allow what is known as the Disaster Assessment and Recovery Team (DART) to continue its assessment of the various facilities there. On Sept. 13, center officials said the center would remain closed on Sept. 14 as that assessment continues.

KSC closed Sept. 8 in advance of the approaching hurricane, which passed to the west of the center, up the Gulf coast of Florida, late Sept. 10 and early Sept. 11. That track spared the center and surrounding region from the worst of the storm, but still subjected it to high winds, heavy rains and sporadic tornadoes.

The center, in its statement about the extended closure, said that teams found “a variety of damage” to facilities but did not elaborate. Images of an aerial tour of the center Sept. 12 showed some roof and other exterior damage to some buildings, but not necessarily as serious as what KSC suffered when Hurricane Matthew passed just offshore in October 2016.

KSC is also without water service, caused by a large number of water main breaks in a regional water system operated by the city of Cocoa, Florida. In a statement posted late Sept. 12, city officials said they hoped to restore water pressure throughout the entire system Sept. 13.

Other space-related Cape Canaveral organizations are returning to regular operations. Patrick Air Force Base terminated its evacuation order Sept. 11, requiring all personnel with the 45th Space Wing to report for duty by Sept. 13 unless other arrangements were made. United Launch Alliance also reported only minor damage to its facilities at Cape Canaveral, and expected to resume normal operations as soon as Sept. 13.

Bob Richards, chief executive of Moon Express, said after a panel discussion here Sept. 12 that the company’s facilities at the former Launch Complex 17 and 18 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station had also suffered only minor damage during the hurricane, which would not affect the company’s work there.