Climate changes challenges us in plenty of ways. There are droughts all over the earth, flooding in others, the polar ice is melting endangering polar bears and other Arctic animals. But who’d think that NASA would be up against problems from a warming planet?
Rising seas are the problem and it just so happens that NASA’s prime launch centers are based right on the water. The most famous site is the Kennedy Space Center (Cape Canaveral, Fla.), which is threatened by shrinking dunes and a damaged shoreline, according to Discovery.com.
Apparently, NASA made the decision many years ago to launch its spacecraft over water because any falling debris or crashes of spacecraft would not harm people. (I guess harming whales and dolphins is okay.) However, the problem now is that climate change is causing these launch areas to become unstable—not now, but surely in coming years.
The other NASA facilities are close to rising water, including the Langley Research Center and the Wallops Flight Facility, both in Virginia. And don’t forget that the Johnson Space Center center is perilously close in Houston to the Gulf of Mexico. Plus, the Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana is below the water level of Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River near New Orleans.
“The nation’s problem is also NASA’s problem,” said Micheal J. Carlowicz, the chief technical writer at the agency’s sciences ad exploration division. He told Discovery.com that “Sea level rise hits especially close to home because half to two-thirds of NASA’s infrastructure and assets stand within sixteen feet of sea level.”
Researchers have concluded that the NASA coastal centers almost are certain to become vulnerable in the future.
So before any proposed manned Martian flight, we may be seeing a launch center moved far inland.