[Lightning checks delay shuttle's launch to Sunday] - July 11, 2009
Already a month behind schedule, launch of the shuttle Endeavour on a 16-day space station assembly mission was delayed at least 24 hours, from Saturday to Sunday, to give engineers time to evaluate the effects of multiple lightning strikes at the launch pad during a severe thunderstorm Friday.
Lightning strikes the mast atop launch pad 39A on Friday. NASA photos/Spaceflight Now graphic
Eleven lightning strikes were recorded within 1,800 feet of the launch pad 39A and while the shuttle is protected from lightning-induced electrical surges, NASA managers decided more time was needed to make sure no critical systems were affected.
"We've seen nothing so far that indicates anything was actually affected by the lightning strikes," said Mike Moses, director of shuttle launch integration at the Kennedy Space Center. "So I fully expect this to be a positive story, but we have a lot of equipment that has to be checked and that's what takes time."
Assuming no problems are found, NASA will reset Endeavour's countdown for a launch Sunday at 7:13:55 p.m. EDT. Forecasters are predicting a 70 percent chance of acceptable weather.
Friday afternoon, however, severe storms rumbled across the space center bringing torrential rain and electrical activity. "It was snap, crackle and pop out there," one official said" .... cont. at link above.