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Kennedy Space Center Closed Friday

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Kennedy Space Center will remain closed on Friday, Sept. 15.

The center’s damage assessment and recovery team has completed a 90 percent review of the center and continues to recover key systems throughout Kennedy.

Based on the initial analysis provided by the Patrick Air Force Base 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron, wind speeds at the center varied from 67-94 mph (59-82 knots) at the 54-foot level to 90-116 mph (79-101 knots) at the 458-foot level during the storm.

The center currently is without potable water service, which is used for drinking, food preparation and cleaning.

The center and surrounding community remain under a boil water restriction.

The center’s chillers rely on industrial water and are unaffected by the water restriction.  The center will re-open following restoration of full water service.

Kennedy Space Center Closed Thursday

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Kennedy Space Center will remain closed on Thursday, Sept. 14, as the center’s damage assessment and recovery team continues to survey the impacts of Hurricane Irma.

The center currently is without potable water service, which is used for drinking, food preparation and cleaning. The center and surrounding community remain under a boil water restriction. The center’s chillers rely on industrial water and are unaffected by the water restriction.  The center will re-open following restoration of full water service.

Kennedy Sustains Damage from Hurricane Irma

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Launch Complex 39 and surrounding areas are seen during an aerial survey of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept. 12, 2017. The survey was performed to identify structures and facilities that may have sustained damage from Hurricane Irma as the storm passed Kennedy on Sept. 10, 2017. NASA closed the center ahead of the storm’s onset and only a small team of specialists known as the Rideout Team was on the center as the storm approached and passed.

Facilities at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida sustained a variety of damage as powerful Hurricane Irma churned past the spaceport Sunday, Sept. 10.

Center Director Bob Cabana joined the center’s Damage Assessment and Recovery Team for a survey of the spaceport Tuesday. A damage assessment report will be compiled over the next several weeks after a full inspection of the center has been conducted.

The Kennedy Space Center will remain closed Wednesday, Sept. 13, as the DART continues its efforts to assess and mitigate any issues it finds in order to open and fully resume operations at the Kennedy Space Center.

The center currently is without water service.

Visit for photos taken during the damage assessment and recovery process.

Hurricane Irma’s Eye Approaches KSC

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9:45 p.m. EDT–During today’s 6 o’clock hour, Irma packed sustained winds of 35 miles per hour, with gusts as high as 64 m.p.h. The storm’s eye is forecast to come within 116 miles of KSC, its closest proximity to the center, at 2 a.m. Monday, producing maximum sustained winds of 60 m.p.h. for approximately 3 hours. Gusts as high as 74 m.p.h. are possible. Rainfall of 8 – 12” rain is expected, with 15 to 18” possible in isolated areas. A 1- to 3-foot storm surge remains forecast. Irma is expected to exit our immediate area by mid-day Monday, Sept. 11.

Final decisions from the Damage Assessment and Recovery Team, and the center’s return to work, are expected to be made during a 9 a.m. briefing Monday, Sept. 11.

First Nations Launch Winners Visit Kennedy Space Center

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First Nations Launch Competition Winners tour the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

A group of 15 college students recently visited NASA’s Kennedy Space Center as winners of the First Nations Launch competition in Wisconsin. They were part of teams that successfully flew high-powered rockets, earning them an opportunity to visit the Florida spaceport.

The competition is supported by NASA and the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium. It provides an opportunity for students attending tribal colleges and universities or who are members of a campus American Indian Science and Engineering Society, or AISES, chapter to design, build and launch a rocket at a competition in Kansasville, Wisconsin.

“The project has been ongoing for nine years,” said Rob Cannon, a project specialist in Kennedy’s Education Office who serves as activity manager for the visit of the First Nations Launch Competition. “NASA began supporting it starting with the second year.”

During the students’ visit to Kennedy, they toured the Vehicle Assembly Building, Launch Control Center, Swamp Works, Kennedy Prototype Shop, Cryogenics Lab and the visitor complex. They also were given the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion on career opportunities with NASA, contractors or other areas of the aerospace industry.

Christian Cultee participated as a student at Northwest Indian College established by the Lummi Nation in Bellingham, Washington. He noted that his visit was one he would not soon forget.

“Every stop of our tour made me even more eager to see where they would bring us next,” he said. “We extend our appreciation to the employees who took time out of their busy schedules to share with us their experience at Kennedy. We would like them to know that their impact on us was much larger than they’ll ever know.”

While competitors usually are majoring in engineering disciplines, Cannon noted that that’s not always the case.

“There was one team that was made up entirely of nursing students,” he said. “While it may help to be majoring in a technical field, the competition is open to any student interested in building a rocket and is attending a tribal college or a member of an AISES chapter.”

There are two annual challenges students may choose to enter. In this year’s Tribal Challenge, a rocket is launched and is judged on its stability using a small onboard camera. In the AISES Challenge, student teams from AISES chapters design, build and launch a rocket that will be able to provide an active drag system integrated into the rocket by means of a mechanical device. The goal is to attain an altitude of exactly 75 percent of the nondeployed drag system to the altitude of the first launch.

Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

Vice President Pence Visits NASA’s Multi-User Spaceport

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Vice President Mike Pence thanked employees at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for their commitment to America’s continued leadership in the space frontier during a visit to America’s multi-user spaceport on Thursday.

“Let us do what our nation has always done since its very founding and beyond: We’ve pushed the boundaries on frontiers, not just of territory, but of knowledge. We’ve blazed new trails, and we’ve astonished the world as we’ve boldly grasped our future without fear,” the Vice President told employees, government dignitaries and space industry leaders in remarks at the facility’s iconic Vehicle Assembly Building, where the new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft will be prepared ahead of launches to the moon, and eventually to Mars and beyond. “From this ‘Bridge to Space,’ our nation will return to the moon, and we will put American boots on the face of Mars.”

Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot thanked Vice President Pence and the administration for their strong support, and pointed out the evidence of government and industry cooperation on display at Kennedy.

“Here, of all places, we can see we’re not looking at an ‘and/or proposition’,” Lightfoot said. “We need government and commercial entities. We need large companies and small companies. We need international partners and our domestic suppliers. And we need academia to bring that innovation and excitement that they bring to the next workforce that we’re going to use to actually keep going further into space than we ever have before.”

Vice President Pence also got a first-hand look at the public-private partnerships at Kennedy during a tour that showcased both NASA and commercial work that will soon lead to U.S.-based astronaut launches and eventual missions into deep space. The Vice President started his visit with a concrete example of public-private development, as Air Force Two touched down on the Shuttle Landing Facility, the former space shuttle landing strip now leased and operated by Space Florida. After his remarks in the Vehicle Assembly Building, the Vice President shook hands with employees before departing on a tour, accompanied by Lightfoot, Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana, and NASA astronauts Pat Forrester and Reid Wiseman.

The Vice President visited the center’s Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building, where the Orion spacecraft is being prepped for its first integrated flight with SLS in 2019. Orion has elements made in America by workers at more than 1,500 companies in 48 states, and some of that work, including components of Orion’s protective heat shield, were on display during the tour.

A driving tour showcased the mobile launch platform being readied for SLS flights as well as two commercial space facilities: Launch Complex 39A, the historic Apollo and shuttle pad now leased by SpaceX and used for commercial launches, and Boeing’s facility, where engineers are prepping the company’s Starliner capsule for crew flights to the space station in the same facility once used to do the same thing for space shuttles.

“We are in a great position here at Kennedy, we made our vision a reality; it couldn’t have been done without the passion and energy of our workforce,” said Kennedy Space Center Director Cabana. “Kennedy is fully established as a multi-user spaceport supporting both government and commercial partners in the space industry. As America’s premier multi-user spaceport, Kennedy continues to make history as it evolves, launching to low-Earth orbit and beyond.”

The Vice President also discussed President Trump’s executive order signed on June 30, re-establishing the National Space Council to coordinate all aspects of the nation’s space power. The Vice President said the Council will bring a renewed sense of purpose to America’s space policy by strengthening our economy and unlocking new opportunities, inspiring our children, enhancing our common defense and advancing the security of the American people.

For more information about NASA’s missions and activities, including video and images of Vice President Pence’s tour of the Kennedy Space Center, visit:

Coverage of Today’s Visit by Vice President to Kennedy

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Watch the visit to Kennedy by Vice President Mike Pence today on NASA TV and on NASA’s social media accounts. Coverage of parts of the visit will begin at noon EDT with Air Force Two’s arrival at Kennedy’s Shuttle Landing Facility runway, followed by a special address to the center’s workforce in the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building at 1 p.m.

The Vice President will tour Kennedy and learn more about the center’s work as a multi-user spaceport for commercial and government clients, as well as see the agency’s progress toward launching from U.S. soil on spacecraft built by American companies, and traveling past the moon, and eventually on to Mars and beyond with the help of NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.

For images of the Vice President’s tour, visit NASA’s homepage and the agency’s headquarters Flickr account. Coverage on NASA’s social media accounts will include Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat.

Mars Rover to Help Visitor Complex Kick off New Mars Exhibit

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Mars Rover Concept VehicleIt looks like something out of this world, but that’s exactly where it would work. A futuristic Mars rover concept vehicle was recently unveiled at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex with a goal of inspiration and education as NASA continues developing plans for its journey to the Red Planet.

The visitor complex kicked off its “Summer of Mars” promotion with a June 5 ceremony which included former astronaut Scott Kelly. During his appearance, Kelly shared some of his experiences during a one-year stay aboard the International Space Station from March 27, 2015 to Feb. 3, 2016.

According to Rebecca Shireman, assistant manager of public relations for the Kennedy visitor complex, the “Summer of Mars” program will provide a survey of NASA’s studies of the Red Planet.

“It’s an all-encompassing effort to review the history of our efforts to explore Mars and look ahead to what is being planned,” she said. “We hope this will encourage young people to want to learn more about being a part of the effort to go to Mars.”

NASA’s next robotic Mars rover is set to land on the Red Planet in 2020. The Mars 2020 rover will search for signs of past microbial life and collect core samples for a potentially future return to Earth.

The builders of the scientifically-themed Mars rover concept vehicle, Parker Brothers Concepts of Port Canaveral, Florida, incorporated input into its design from NASA subject matter experts. Construction of the Mars rover was commissioned by the Kennedy visitor complex without use of taxpayer dollars.

The rover operates on an electric motor, powered by solar panels and a 700-volt battery. The rover separates in the middle with the front area designed for scouting and equipped with a radio and navigation provided by the Global Positioning System. The back section serves as a laboratory which can disconnect for autonomous research. While this exact rover is not expected to operate on Mars, one or more of its elements could make its way into a rover astronauts will drive on the Red Planet.

Following several weeks on display at Kennedy’s visitor complex, the Mars rover concept vehicle will be displayed at several locations. From July through August, it will be displayed at several locations during a tour along the East Coast.

Shireman explained that the Mars rover concept vehicle will return to the visitor complex to be part of the new Astronaut Training Experience attraction opening in the fall of this year.

Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

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