Dune restoration to protect launch operations at Kennedy Space Center from rising sea levels

Sand dunes are KSC first line of defense

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – As a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was moving toward a launchpad Thursday workers a few hundred feet away were restoring NASA’s Kennedy Space Center’s first line of defense from the sea: the sand dunes.

Don Dankert, with KSC’s environmental planning office, says this three-mile restoration project should be finished this year.

"The primary purpose of our dune project is to protect our inland infrastructure primarily from storm surge and inland flooding events," Dankert said.

The work follows the 2016 and 2017 hurricanes and NASA said if rising sea levels damage the beach in the future, it would rebuild the dunes again.

Senior Project Manager Keith Britton, also a member of the Oviedo City Council, called preparing for rising sea levels, “a long-term approach.”

Britton said the good news is if sea levels rise here an estimated three-feet over the next 60 or 70 years, KSC's buildings would still not be flooded out.

“The bottom line is we’re not really threatened at this time but now’s the time we’re going to start looking at how to mitigate sea-level rise when it does occur,” Britton said.

He said engineers are updating floodplain maps to make sure new buildings are built above any possible flood event.

"Something that we'll continue to study and monitor into the future and then make those determinations at that time if additional shoreline restoration is needed or warranted," Dankert said.

In the past 20 years, NASA said 19 of those years are among the hottest years on record.

NASA said in the last 100 years, the average global sea-level rise is seven inches.

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