Despite fears that NASA's Kennedy Space Center would be badly affected by Hurricane Matthew, it appears that the extent of damage is relatively minor, officials said.
This weekend, category 4 Hurricane Matthew advanced its way toward the state of Florida, prompting NASA scientists to ride out the storm and temporarily close the space center's visitor complex.
But even before the ferocious storm hit the complex, the winds began to shift. Matthew ended up moving toward the Atlantic and away from the Kennedy Space Center.
While the storm still gave off sustained winds of 90 mph, the eye of the hurricane passed by the facility from a distance of at least 20 miles, according to NASA.
"We dodged a bit of a bullet," said 45th Space Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith. The winds shifted to the east and the storm became less intense, he said.
However, Brig. Gen. Monteith said concerns about the storm are not over yet, and that their number one priority is the safety of residents.
Suffering Minor Damages
The Kennedy Space Center stands right on the water, which was meant to reduce the impact should accidents occur.
Initial assessments of the space center began as soon as the wind dipped to safe levels on Friday, Oct. 7.
The aerial surveys reveal that several buildings and vehicles at the complex suffered mostly minor damage. There were also limited water intrusion and several knocked down power lines.
For instance, the Vehicle Assembly Building, Complex 39 launch pads, as well as other active launch pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station appear to be relatively unaffected.
Furthermore, NASA mentioned detecting "some beach erosion" on the area, but it is not certain whether it happened in Launch Pad 39A and 39B. It might take a while before NASA completes its survey of every building.
Meanwhile, the space center's visitor complex will be reopened on Sunday, but some areas will remain off-limits, with the exception of employee access.
The next step for NASA inspectors is to perform thorough safety checks in each building to make sure that the damage is minor as it appears from the air.
In addition to NASA, private companies that typically hold rocket launches at the facilities have announced that only minor damages have occurred to their properties.
A spokesperson from SpaceX told Ars Technica that everything appeared to be fine, while United Launch Alliance CEO Tony Bruno tweeted that there was no damage to the company's flight assets.