It has been a couple of exciting days for the Space Launch System, or SLS, NASA's massive new rocket destined to bring humans back to the Moon (and maybe beyond). SLS has been rolled out of the assembly facility and this weekend was placed on its launch pad for a wet rehearsal. And, well, it got wetter than expected.
Inclement weather has been battering Cape Canaveral, where the Kennedy Space Center is, and photographer Jerry Pike has shared a fantastic video of the moment lightning struck the launch pad’s lightning tower during tests on Saturday.
NASA confirmed that four lightning strikes hit the towers within the perimeter of the historic Launch Pad 39B, from which Apollo 10, Skylab, and 53 Space Shuttles launched. Three were lower-intensity but one strike was higher. Luckily, the tower did its job, taking the full force of Mother Nature and keeping the rocket safe from harm.
The wet rehearsal, which in the end was scrubbed and is taking place today instead, will see the rocket being fueled up with almost 3.2 million liters (700,000 gallons) of cryogenic propellant as if it was going to launch. A wet rehearsal is a test conducted as a scrub, the name for an aborted launch, with the countdown going down to 10 seconds before lift-off. The real launch will take place some time in May.
Yesterday’s rehearsal was not postponed just due to the weather, though. NASA reported an issue with the ability to pressurize the mobile launcher. The problem seems to have been fixed now and the rehearsal is expected to resume in the afternoon local time on April 4.