Friday, August 26, 2011

KSC cleared of Irene threat

Kennedy Space Center today was given an "all clear" as Hurricane Irene passed to the east, but NASA facilities to the north now are preparing for potential storm impacts.

The Wallops Flight Facility and Langley Research Center in Virginia, NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., will keep only essential personnel in place and are taking steps to keep operations running in the event of damage or power outages.

Some functions, such as maintaining NASA TV and Web communication, may be transferred to Johnson Space Center to ensure continuity.

KSC managers earlier today lifted the center from its lowest-level hurricane alert status, known as HURCON IV, or Hurricane Condition IV.

"We were very fortunate on this one," said Allard Beutel, a KSC spokesman.

Irene made it's closest approach to KSC at 2 a.m. today, 220 miles off shore, and caused no damage or injuries.

Peak rainfall of 2.18 inches was recorded at the Shuttle Landing Facility. Winds at various times gusted as high as 54 mph. Buoys in the Atlantic Ocean measured 20-foot waves near the shore and 30 feet farther out.

IMAGE: This visible image of Hurricane Irene from the MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite was taken at August 26 at 12:30 p.m. EDT, when Hurricane Irene was off the Carolinas. Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team

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