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NASA: Tropical Storm Won't Delay Shuttle Launch

NASA Closes Florida Spaceport for Tropical Storm Fay
Technicians working at NASA's Kennedy Space Center maneuver a protective cover over a Fine Guidance Sensor destined for the Hubble Space Telescope. Astronauts will install the upgraded pointing instrument during STS-125. (Image credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller.)

CAPE CANAVERAL — NASA's Kennedy Space Center apparentlyavoided major damage as of Wednesday night, and the agency's next shuttlelaunch likely will remain on schedule.


The stormshut down the nation's shuttle homeport two consecutive days and regularoperations won't resume until Friday.


But the targeted Oct. 8 launch of shuttle Atlantis and sevenastronauts on a fifth and final Hubble Space Telescope servicingmission is expected to take place as planned.


"Right now, as far as we are able to tell, there willbe no impact to the Oct. 8 launch date," KSC spokesman George Diller said.


A Titusville resident, Diller is one of 200 people who rodeout the storm at the KSC Emergency Operations Center, keeping vigil over thenation's three-orbiter shuttlefleet and spaceport facilities.


A single panel of aluminum siding blew off the east side ofthe KSC Vehicle Assembly Building, and a glass door at an office buildingshattered. There were also a few downed trees.


"So far, we're doing much better than the folks in South Brevard," he said.


NASA planned to bring a core group of "missionessential" personnel into work at 10 a.m. today to ready the spaceport forregular operations Friday.


At Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air ForceBase, the storm plan remained the same: "Nonessential missionpersonnel" will shelter in place today. Mission-essential personnel willbe recalled as required.


The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is closed today andwill reopen Friday.


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Todd Halvoron is a veteran aerospace journalist based in Titusville, Florida who covered NASA and the U.S. space program for 27 years with Florida Today. His coverage for Florida Today also appeared in USA Today, and 80 other newspapers across the United States. Todd earned a bachelor's degree in English literature, journalism and fiction from the University of Cincinnati and also served as Florida Today's Kennedy Space Center Bureau Chief during his tenure at Florida Today. Halvorson has been an independent aerospace journalist since 2013.