Kennedy Space Center, $1.2 billion weather satellite could suffer catastrophic hit in Hurricane Matthew

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  • Several structures at Kennedy Space Center are built to withstand high winds, but a direct hit from Hurricane Matthew could put them at risk.
  • The $1.2 billion GOES-R satellite is housed at the space center and awaits a November 4 launch.

After Hurricane Andrew devastated parts of Florida in 1992, NASA realized it needed to build structures that could withstand the strong tropical cyclone winds that threatened Kennedy Space Center.

They did not expect these buildings to have to withstand 140 mph winds.

(MORE: WATCH OUR CONTINUING COVERAGE LIVE ON THE WEATHER CHANNEL)

In the final hours of preparation for Hurricane Matthew, the Space Coast is watching the dire possibility of a Category 4 landfall directly opposite. This means that if the Space Center takes a direct hit from the worst of the storm, many large structures and even the launch pad could be in danger.

NASA will also closely monitor the safety of the $1.2 billion GOES-R satellite, hosted at the space center and awaiting launch on November 4. This satellite set to revolutionize weather forecastingproviding far more data than meteorologists currently have, but it must first survive Hurricane Matthew.

(MORE: Hurricane Matthew Evacuation Orders | Tracking the Storm)

In a Thursday conversation on Reddit, NOAA officials assured the public that the satellite was in a safe location that should protect it from the storm’s destructive winds and rain.

According to Ars Technica, Orbiter’s processing facilities are able to withstand winds of 105 mph, and several other Kennedy Space Center buildings were built to withstand wind gusts of up to 125 mph. Structures built after Andrew are able to withstand winds of 130 mph, the report adds.

But this is an unprecedented storm for this part of Florida’s Atlantic coast. These structures have not been tested against winds like Matthew might bring, and NASA closed the entire space center on Wednesday afternoon to allow employees to evacuateaccording to NBC News.

“Once the storm has passed, facilities and infrastructure at the center will be assessed and employees will be permitted to return when it is safe to do so,” NASA said in a statement.

MORE ON WEATHER.COM: Hurricane Matthew

Chris Moore walks down Martin Luther King Blvd. on October 12, 2016 in Lumberton, North Carolina. Heavy rains from Hurricane Matthew ended this weekend, but flooding is still expected for days in North Carolina. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

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