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Florida spaceport opens despite storm damage

Hurricane Matthew has torn off roofs from several buildings at the Kennedy Space Center, but key equipment mostly escaped damage. The center was "blessed" by avoiding the full impact of the storm, NASA officials said.

NASA has reopened its Florida launch site on Tuesday, while still tallying up the damage caused by the deadly storm that had ripped through the Caribbean and parts of the US.

The eye of the storm passed between 32 and 40 miles (20 to 25 miles) east of Cape Canaveral where the Kennedy Space Center is located. The wind damaged roofs of several buildings, letting the rain in and causing millions in property damage, according to NASA officials.

At the same time, spaceport director Robert Cabana said that would be much worse if Hurricane Matthew had not veered offshore. 

"We were definitely blessed," he told reporters.

Astronaut beach house takes a beating

At the launch pad 39A, which NASA is renting to Elon Musk's SpaceX company, the wind speed reached 217 kilometers per hour (135 mph) at the height of 1000 feet (30 meters) off the ground. However, both the SpaceX launch pad and the nearby NASA's launch site appeared to be in good shape, Cabana said. Processing hangers were also spared, according to the official.

USA Kennedy Space Center nach dem Hurrikan Matthew in Florida (Picture-Alliance/Cory Huston/NASA via AP)

Astronauts often used the center's beach house for parties and barbeques to relax before missions

Still, the storm severely damaged an iconic 1960's beach house, which generations of astronauts used to throw parties and spend time with their families before blasting off into space.

Some 8,300 people currently work at the Kennedy Space Center.

The US President Obama declared a state of emergency over Matthew, which killed some 30 people in the US. The US death toll, however, pales before the  devastation in Haiti, where at least 1,000 people have died.

dj/bw (Reuters, AP)

 

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