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August 27, 2006

Lightning strike delays launch

The launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis has been slipped at least a day, from Sunday to Monday afternoon. NASA engineers are taking an extra day to do a full check of the launch vehicle in the wake of a lightning strike on Friday. The lightning hit Pad 39B's 'lightning protection system' -- basically, a really big, strong lightning rod on the top of the launch tower.

Jim Oberg is reporting that the strike was one of the most powerful in NASA's history (lightning has struck launch towers before.) But engineers are nervous, because the shuttle electrical systems showed a slight bump, when they should have registered nothing. So they are taking a close look at separation systems between the solid rocket boosters and the external tank, as well as other electrical systems.

NASA has plenty of time with this launch window, with daily launch opportunities through September 7.

Posted by george_whitesides at August 27, 2006 01:57 AM



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