On October 7th, 2016, Hurricane Matthew hit Florida. Originally a Category 4 storm, it was downgraded to a Category 3 by the time it approached Florida. The potential for damage remained high, and many counties along the Atlantic were evacuated, including Brevard County, home of Cape Canaveral. The Cape makes up what is known as the Space Coast; it was given this title as it is home to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), and various aerospace manufacturers.
The hurricane passed a mere 26 miles from the KSC, bringing consistent winds at 90 miles per hour, with gusts reaching 107 miles per hour. The KSC’s vertical assembly building and several launchpads have the capability to withstand wind gusts of up to 125 miles per hour. Certain buildings and launch pads, built after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, are able to withstand gusts of up to 135 miles per hour.
According to officials, the KSC felt minimal damage ranging from slight roof damage to flying debris. Fortunately, two satellites set to launch soon were protected from the storm; coincidentally, one was the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) GOES-R weather satellite intended to greatly improve hurricane forecasting. However, following SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket explosion that badly damaged the launch pad, it is unknown the extent of further damage caused by Hurricane Matthew. Until thorough inspections this weekend, it is unclear what effect the storm had on Cape Canaveral’s launch schedule.