Science and Exploration

NASA Team Assessing Lightning Strikes to Towers at Launch Pad 39B

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
August 27, 2022
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NASA Team Assessing Lightning Strikes to Towers at Launch Pad 39B
Artemis 1

As the Artemis I countdown progresses, rain and thunderstorms have continued throughout the afternoon at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Earlier this afternoon, there were three lightning strikes to the lightning protection system towers at Launch Pad 39B – a strike to Tower 1, and two strikes to Tower 2. Initial indications are that the strikes were of low magnitude.

A weather team has begun an assessment that includes collecting voltage and current data, as well as imagery. The data will be shared with a team of experts on electromagnetic environment efforts who will determine if any constraints on vehicle or ground systems were violated. Engineers will conduct a walkdown at the pad tonight, and if needed, conduct additional assessments with subsystems experts.

Overnight, engineers also will conduct preparations on the umbilicals, power up the core stage, and begin charging the Orion and Space Launch System core stage batteries.

The lightning protection system at the launch pad includes three 600-foot-tall towers and catenary wires positioned to protect the rocket, spacecraft, and mobile launcher. The wires run to the ground almost diagonally, steering the lightning current away from the rocket.

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