The Russian Soyuz Rocket was hit by a bolt of lightning right after it was successfully launched for its first trip into space as it was making its ascent. Roscosmos Soyuz rocket was blasted-off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on the morning of Sunday, May 27, in northern Russia. The electrical discharge struck the rocket on its nose, and the third-stage booster segment, however, was not phased by it and continued its journey for 3.5-hour into the low-earth orbit. The goal was to drop its payload of a Glonass-M radio-based navigation satellite, and it succeeded in doing so precisely on schedule. The rocket was not carrying any human passengers.
Dmitry Rogozin, the director of the Russian space agency, tweeted the video of the take-off showing the shocking moment when the lightning struck. This is not the first time that it has happened. The Apollo 12 mission launched in 1969 was hit by lightning twice as it was taking off. Precautions measures were taken to deter strikes, and the Russian rockets have similar technologies.
Russian Soyuz Rocket Was Dramatically Struck by Lightning
The Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed that the satellite did not suffer any damages: “A stable telemetric connection was established and maintained with the spacecraft.” They stated as well that: “The onboard systems of the GLONASS-M spacecraft are functioning normally.” As per UCL physicist Professor Alan Smith, the airborne rockets are usually immune to intense electrical discharge: “While rather spectacular, being struck by lightning is not particularly threatening to a rocket launch.”
Mr. Rogozin congratulated the Russian space forces and scientists on social media mentioning that “lightning is no hindrance for you.” Surprisingly, the lightning is not always caused by weather conditions, but by the rocket launch itself. As per a NASA’s report, the “lightning can be triggered by the presence of the long electrical length created by the space vehicle and its exhaust plume in an electric field which would not otherwise have produced natural lightning.”