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NASA Kennedy Space Center Sinking Into the Ocean, Climate Change to Blame

Sep 28, 2016 03:50 AM EDT

NASA's Kennedy Space Center is one of the space agency's most valuable assets. The center sits on a sandbar worth $10.9 billion where it is the only place in the US where humans can launch into space. However, it appears due to the effects of climate change, the center is slowly sinking into the ocean.

Along with four other research and launch facilities, NASA's Kennedy Space Center sits at the edge of the sea. For Caroline Massey, the assistant director for management operations at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, a safe launch would be done at the coast. This is to ensure the safety of people especially when it comes to exploding rockets.

Yet, architects involved in creating the Kennedy Space Center in the 1960s were well aware of its exposure to the elements such as hurricanes, wear and tear of the ocean, and rising sea levels. Right now, the rising sea levels are an issue.

Studies suggest that if humans continue to push carbon emissions into the atmosphere, NASA's Kennedy Space Center won't be sending people into outer space - because it'll soon be underwater. Obviously, the glorious future of NASA isn't only threatened by government budget cuts, but by climate change.

"We are acutely aware that, in the long-term sense, the viability of our presence at Space Coast is in question," says Kim Toufectis, a facilities planner in NASA's Office of Strategic Infrastructure.

Since the early 1990s, sea levels have gone up and at Kennedy most of the roads and launch pads have already been suffering the effects of water rising. These areas have started to become swamped. In addition to rising seas, the Kennedy Space Center has other disasters to face in the future such as extreme weathers like hurricanes and storms, which cause coastal erosion.

Kennedy may be the most threatened asset of NASA for now, but a few other facilities by the space agency are also facing challenges. The Johnson Research Center in Texas also faces issues with the rising sea levels, whereas the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley is preparing for drought.

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