oh shit.

Depending on just what happens with hurricane floyd, it could basically destroy the USA’s manned space program.

It might be a non-event, but there’s a real risk: all 4 orbiters are in buildings not designed to withstand winds as strong as floyd’s, and there’s a great deal of ground infrastructure in a similar boat. This stuff can’t just be rebuild; tooling is gone, suppliers no longer exist…

In addition to the huge mess of everybody who’s going to lose homes and businesses, the risk of losing such a national resource is frightening.

Hope all your Floridians will make it through ok.

peas on earth

It’s not going to hit Kennedy, but if everything was destroyed it may end up being a blessing in disguise. The equipment has been stagnant for a while, and it could encourage the completion of a variety of potential replacements.

Canaveral…we changed it back from Kennedy to Canaveral.

“…send lawyers, guns, and money…”

 Warren Zevon

Actually I think the physical location (i.e. the geographic name of the place) is still Cape Canaveral, but the space center is called Cape Kennedy, or the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.

Lame compromise IMO.

NPR just reported that Floyd has turned significantly to the north; its eye is now expected to make landfall near the border between the Carolinas. Since the strongest winds are near to the eye, the space program is apparently safe.

You’re right, Wireless. The entire cape was originally called Canaveral, but when they decided to build the space center there, they changed the name to Kennedy. The name of the entire landmass, I mean. The residents there weren’t really keen on it, so they did eventually change the name of the cape back to Canaveral, but left the name of the space center as Kennedy.

While this one apparently won’t hit it, the phrase, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” sure does come to mind…

When I first heard this, I had to shake my head. It’s a perfect example of typical bureaucratic thinking, constructing buildings to withstand an ‘average’ hurricane when an high-end one is bound to strike eventually. I’m just glad I heard this morning that the nuclear power plant it’s likely to pass near is built to withstand up to 194 mph.

Re: bureaucratic thinking - constructing buildings to withstand an ‘average’ hurricane.

Aren’t about half of all hurricanes going to be greater than average? So it’s designed to withstand only half the hurricanes! Makes it sound even dumber, if that’s possible. More like putting all your eggs in one basket and then setting the basket in the middle of the road!

(And yes, I know the definition of average/mean vs. median, but for normal distributions like this, it’s typically almost the same thing. Hence “about half”.)

Now we-all in NC are waiting for Floyd! Satan, got your hatches battend down?

FWIW, they don’t design for an “average” hurricane – they design for the largest one they reasonably expect to come along. In this case their reasoning wasn’t so good.

It’s analogous to planning for floods. Planning for an “average” flood would mean you’d get flooded out every other year, on average. So they look at the history and they calculate 5-year, 20-year, 100-year floods, etc. That is, the worst flood they (statistically) expect in a 5 (or 20 or 100) year period. If you’re putting up a circus tent, there’s no reason to plan for a 100-year flood. If you’re building a pyramid that’s supposed to last 5,000 years you’d better plan for a 5,000-year flood.

The problem, of course, is that these are 1) predictions based on 2) incomplete data. There is no guarantee that past flooding (or hurricane strength, or storm surge, earthquakes, etc.) accurately predicts future occurrences. And even if it did, weather records only go back so far (even in Florida) so there is going to be some significant guesswork.

Having said all that, the space program is notorious for putting off current costs (which have to be approved by congress NOW!) at the expense of future costs. The space shuttle could be a lot cheaper to fly (and was originally designed that way) but to save current budget money they built it a little cheaper, and now it costs an arm and a leg to keep them operating.

So they could very well have skimped on the hurricane protection (future money) to save building costs (current money).

“non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem”
– William of Ockham

I bet there’s a lot of folks thinkin’ “Those O-rings weren’t such a tough fix,” now.