CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (WFLA) — A 100 mph wind gust was recorded at Kennedy Space Center early Thursday morning, where NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft were left on the launchpad to ride out Hurricane Nicole.
The Orlando Sentinel reported that the 600-foot high weather sensors at LC 39-B recorded the gust at 4:15 a.m.
The tallest sensors picked up gusts reaching 90-100 mph multiple times between 3 and 5 a.m., according to the Sentinel. Sustained winds closer to the ground averaged 50-60 mph.
Although wind speeds were lower closer to the ground, they still pushed the safety limits outlined by NASA ahead of Nicole’s landfall. The agency said their $4.1 billion rocket and spacecraft could withstand sustained winds of 85 mph at 60 feet high. That exact measurement was recorded at the time of the 100 mph gust.
“Forecasts predict the greatest risks at the pad are high winds that are not expected to exceed the SLS design,” NASA said on Tuesday. “The rocket is designed to withstand heavy rains at the launch pad and the spacecraft hatches have been secured to prevent water intrusion.”
NASA announced that it would delay its launch attempt for the Artemis I mission ahead of the storm on Tuesday, just days after it was rolled back out from the Vehicle Assembly Building after Hurricane Ian. Kennedy Space Center was moved to HURCON III status ahead of the storm, with a “ride-out” team staying on site to keep an eye the launch complex.
Barring damage from the storm, NASA will attempt to launch the rocket on Nov. 16 during a 2-hour launch window that opens at 1:04 a.m. If it launches that day, it will return to Earth on Dec. 11.