Wednesday, August 24, 2011

KSC plans to remain open through Irene

Kennedy Space Center expects to remain open as the powerful Hurricane Irene, now a Category 3 storm, passes by more than 230 miles to the east early Friday, according to the latest forecasts.

From Thursday evening into Friday, the storm could dump two to four inches of rain on the center and blow sustained winds of 35 mph, gusting to 50 mph.

But normal operations will proceed and no ride-out team is being activated.

The center remains in its lowest alert level, called Hurricane Condition IV, and has no plans to elevate that status pending another status update Thursday morning.

Overnight, slightly ahead of schedule because of the approaching storm, technicians at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station fitted a protective cone around two moon-bound spacecraft sitting atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II Heavy rocket.

NASA's GRAIL mission remains on track for an 8:37 a.m. Sept. 8 blastoff from Launch Complex 17B.

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