NASA braces for Frances

The Kennedy Space Center makes preparations for the approaching hurricane.
By | Published: September 3, 2004 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
Hurricane Frances hits the Bahamas
Scientists at the Space Science and Engineering Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, combined a detailed satellite image of the Bahamas with images of Hurricane Frances as it bore down on the islands September 2 and 3.
NOAA / University of Wisconsin, Madison, SSEC
September 3, 2004
Thousands of automobiles clogged Florida’s highways during the largest evacuation in state history as residents anticipated the arrival of Hurricane Frances. Taking this threat seriously, NASA also made plans for the powerful storm.

On Thursday, NASA closed the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) for the weekend. The center sent its nearly 14,000 workers home to prepare for Frances. For now, the KSC is scheduled to re-open September 7.

Before leaving, KSC workers prepared the facilities and equipment to prevent storm damage. All three space shuttles were stowed and secured, most systems powered down, hardware covered with plastic or tarps, equipment moved indoors, and sandbags placed around building openings. Other spacecraft and ISS components also were prepared for the hurricane’s arrival.

“KSC houses some of the jewels of America’s space flight program,” says associate administrator for space operations Bill Readdy. “We’ve taken every precaution to secure our spacecraft and facilities and to keep our workers safe. In 40 years of space flight operations at Cape Canaveral, we’ve never sustained a direct hit from a hurricane, but we’ve always been prepared.”

For recent animations of Hurricane Frances, scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Space Science and Engineering Center have created an on-line tool for users to track the storm. The web site uses images of the hurricane projected on a base map obtained from NASA’s Earth Observatory Team.

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