Archive by category | Space shuttle Atlantis launch

An Uncertain Strike

At the afternoon press conference, we learned that launch pad 39B was hit yesterday by the largest lightning strike the shuttle programme has ever seen. One hundred thousand amps coursed through the tower’s lightning rod. The arc may have affected an arm on the ground structure that’s meant to swing away at launch, as well as one of the shuttle’s primary electrical systems, according to LeRoy Cain, the senior shuttle programme manager at the site. “At this point we don’t really have enough data yet to really know whether or not we have any problems.”  … Read more

Rain Rain Go Away!

I showed up at the press centre at around noon, and almost as soon as I pulled up it started pouring. At its heaviest, the rain was so thick that you could just barely make out the fifty-story tall vehicle assembly building across the street. We found out at an evening press conference that Pad 39-B, where Atlantis is fueling up, was actually struck by lightning around that time. They’ve got ways (i.e. ¾” steel lighting rods) of deflecting the strike, and it looks like none of the shuttle’s systems were damaged.  Read more

Welcome to STS 115

So here I am at my very first shuttle launch. The space shuttle Atlantis will be carrying a roughly 16,000 kg truss, complete with solar arrays, into orbit. It’s an essential part of the International Space Station (ISS), which will need the extra juice to keep growing. It’s also an important test in the return to normal shuttle flights, because it’s the first flight to resume construction of the ISS, something that ended after the break-up of the Columbia upon re-entry in 2003.  Read more