Hurricane Ian regains strength, heads toward South Carolina as NASA's Florida spaceport recovers

hurricane ian from space as category 1 storm with white clouds off South Carolina coast
NOAA's GOES-16 satellite captured this view of Hurricane Ian as a Category 1 storm off the coast of South Carolina on Sept. 30, 2022. (Image credit: NOAA/National Hurricane Center)

Hurricane Ian regained strength as it barreled toward South Carolina on Friday (Sept. 30) after passing over NASA's Kennedy Space center spaceport in Florida a day earlier. 

Ian regained its hurricane status as a Category 1 storm on Friday, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph) as it churned in the Atlantic Ocean about 60 miles (95 kilometers) from Charleston, South Carolina, as off 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT). The storm caused devastating damage across parts of Florida on Thursday (Sept. 29) as it passed over the state, causing massive flooding and wind damage. 

At NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral, which Ian passed over as a weakened tropical storm on Thursday, officials reported minimal damage. 

Photos: Astronaut looks inside eye of Hurricane Ian from space

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"Kennedy teams have cleared most large operational facilities with minimal damage reported. Teams will continue assessing other facilities tomorrow," KSC officials wrote in a status update (opens in new tab) on Thursday. "NASA leadership's top priority is protecting the health and safety of our workforce and ensuring the well-being of every employee."

At the nearby Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Patrick Space Force Base, officials are evaluating the impact of Ian on the military infrastructure.

"We are continuing to assess both Patrick Space Force Base & Cape Canaveral Space Force Station for damage from Hurricane Ian," officials with the Space Force's Space Launch Delta 45 group wrote in a Twitter update Friday (opens in new tab). "After they deem their facility safe, mission essential personnel are authorized access. We will be slowly reopening facilities throughout Friday and over the weekend, and expect to fully reopen on Monday, October 3," they added in a separate update (opens in new tab).

Hurricane Ian forced the delay of several rocket launches, including SpaceX's Crew-5 astronaut mission to the International Space Station for NASA. That mission, originally scheduled for Oct. 3, will now launch no earlier than Oct. 5 from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. SpaceX also plans to launch two Galaxy satellites for Intelsat in the coming week.

The launch of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the SES 20 and SES 21 communications satellites was also delayed. It was targeted for Sept. 30, but will now lift off no earlier than Oct. 4 due to the storm. 

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Tariq Malik
Editor-in-Chief

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award (opens in new tab) for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast (opens in new tab) with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network (opens in new tab). To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik (opens in new tab).