Russian Rocket Struck By Lightning Mid Takeoff

Lightning strikes during rocket launches are relatively rare but certainly not unheard of - these are giant metal tubes rising in the sky, after all. Russian rockets, including the Soyuz Rocket, also make use of such technologies, thus rendering the lightning strikes harmless.

On May 27 at 9:23 a.m. Moscow time, the Soyuz-2-1b rocket lifted off from launching Pad 4, Site 43 into rainy skies over the Plesetsk Cosmodrome spaceport in northern Russian Federation.

"The launch was carried out in the normal mode".

But things quickly took a dramatic turn when just seconds later, a bolt of lightning struck.

Video of the launch was shared on social media by Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin.

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The Soyuz-2.1b rocket, scheduled to lift a navigation satellite into orbit, took a direct hit from the bolt during lift-off early Monday morning, local time, from Russia's Plesetsk Cosmodrome, located about 800 km north of Moscow. According to an update from the Ministry's communications department, 'A stable telemetric connection is established and maintained with the spacecraft.

"The on-board systems of the GLONASS-M spacecraft are functioning normally".

An unidentified Russian space industry source added: "During the liftoff, lightning struck the nose fairing and the third stage of the carrier rocket". The freakish happening was recorded by telemetric data transmitted from the rocket to the ground-based control center.

UCL physicist Professor Alan Smith explained that airborne rockets are often immune to the powerful electrical discharge.

McKinnon says the same safety principals apply to rockets and that, assuming the rocket is properly insulated against surges, a lightning strike shouldn't be an issue for most rocket launches. The lightning strike was unexpected and confused the crew since the instrumentation, fuel cells, telemetry, and displays went offline.

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