There is a growing threat to the launch sites of the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA), and no, it isn’t from extraterrestrials from Mars or Andromeda. Nor is it from foreign terrorists or domestic religious extremists – though the threat is man made.
The launch sites for NASA are under attack by rising sea levels directly related to global warming. NASA has recognized this fact and has warned that their launch sites along United States coastlines could be underwater in the coming years. NASA has claimed that in the very near future, their spacecraft launch sites will have to be retrofitted and moved inland; a move that will be costly to say the least.
NASA climatologist Cynthia Rosenweig gave a statement about the threat.
“Every NASA center has its own set of vulnerabilities, and some are more at risk than others. But sea level rise is a very real challenge for all of the centers along the coast.”
Costly is an understatement, really, because over 32 billion dollars in NASA launch pads, laboratories, airfields, data centers and testing facilities – not to mention 60,000 employees – are all in danger of being overrun by sea water. In fact, over half of all NASA infrastructure facilities are situated within 16 feet of sea level. To put that into perspective, Kennedy Space Center sits only a few hundred feet from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.
Coastal Geologist John Jaeger from the University of Florida commented on the situation.
“Kennedy Space Center may have decades before waves are lapping at the launch pads. Still, when you put expensive, immovable infrastructure right along the coast, something’s eventually got to give.”
Other NASA sites that are most at risk are Langley Research Center, which sits on the Back River in Hampton, Virginia; Johnson Space Center, which is situated on the edge of Clear Lake on the outskirts of Houston, Texas; and Ames Research Center on the southern end of San Francisco Bay. Each of these expensive and valuable research facilities sits between 5 and 40 feet above sea level. As lowly situated as these research sites are, they’re still located farther above sea level than NASA’s Michoud Assemble Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana, parts of which are located below sea level. After Hurricane Katrina hit, it was reported that the Michoud Facility had to pump out nearly a billion gallons of water.
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