Amazing NASA photographs of lightning strikes at the Artemis 1 moon rocket launch site

A lightning tower takes the brunt of a storm Saturday (Aug. 27) to protect the Artemis 1 moon rocket preparing for launch, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

A lightning storm surge caused some jerky footage at the launch pad for NASA's next lunar mission. The lighting towers around the Artemis 1 stack a Space Launch System (SLS) mega-rocket topped by an Orion crew capsule accomplishing its task of securely transporting the large electrical load away from the rocket captured in dramatic photographs.

The violent rainstorm on Saturday (Aug. 27) threatened to jeopardize the highly anticipated launch of Artemis 1 on Monday (Aug. 29), but everything is okay after NASA assessed the electrical load in the rocket's vicinity. The launch is still scheduled for Monday at 8:33 a.m. EDT (1233 GMT). You may watch the launch live online beginning Monday at 6:30 a.m. EDT (1030 GMT).

Jeff Spaulding, NASA's Artemis 1 senior test director, said on Sunday (Aug. 28) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the site of the expected launch, whenever we see things that are as dramatic as lightning, we all pay a lot of attention to it as we should.

Lightning strikes the Launch Pad 39B lightning protection system at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Aug. 27, 2022, two days ahead of the scheduled launch of Artemis 1. (Image credit: NASA/Keegan Barber)

Lightning is seen near Launch Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Aug. 27, 2022, two days ahead of the scheduled launch of Artemis 1. (Image credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

The technicians recorded five hits on the launch pad lightning towers, according to Spaulding, with everything "functioning as it should." All nighttime tests revealed that the rocket was safe. We have a threshold that we use to determine the size of the strikes, and we did not reach it, so we had to undergo a more extensive, intrusive sort of retest.

A bolt of lightning appears near the Artemis 1 stacked rocket at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Aug. 27, 2022. (Image credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Lightning strikes one of the lightning towers at Pad 39B at Kennedy's Space Center in Florida on Aug. 27, 2022. NASA's Artemis 1 moon rocket is on the pad, awaiting a planned Aug. 29 launch.  (Image credit: NASA Kennedy Space Center)

Such a retest may have delayed the launch of Artemis 1, but the rocket is still scheduled to launch on Monday. According to a NASA blog post(opens in new tab), the weather is 80% favorable for the start of the launch window at 8:33 a.m. EDT (1233 GMT). However, as the two-hour timeframe continues, weather favorability reduces to 60%. The NASA is working hard to make this mission run as smoothly as possible, but the challenge will be launching an unflown rocket on an ambitious mission to safely transport Orion around the moon for a 40-day trip. This mission must meet or come close to completing its key objectives in order for Artemis to be approved for future crewed trips to the moon, from launch through splashdown.

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