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Soyuz Rocket Gets Hit by Lightning After Launch, Keeps on Soyuzing

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
May 27, 2019
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Courtesy of Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin. The Twitter translation into English reads:

Congratulations to the command of space troops, the combat calculation of the cosmodrome Plesetsk, the collectives of the “Progress” (Samara), the NGO named after S. A. Lavachkina (Khimki) and the ISS named after Academician M. F. Reshetnev (Zheleznogorsk) with the successful launch of the SPACECRAFT GLONASS! Lightning you don’t hindrance

Twitter might want to work on its translation program.

The Soyuz booster successfully orbited a GLONASS-M navigation satellite from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia.

The Saturn V taking the Apollo 12 to the moon in 1969 was also struck by lightning after launch. The rocket was fine; the guidance system was deep inside the rocket. However, the electronics in the spacecraft were knocked out. Flight controller John Aaron said to flip the SCE switch to AUX. When Alan Bean did so, the spacecraft came back online.

Mission Control fretted about whether to send the crew to the moon. Everything seemed fine aboard the spacecraft, but there was one crucial system they couldn’t check: the parachutes. Controllers realized that in the unlikely event the lightning strike had fried the parachute deployment system, the crew would die anyway. Might as well send them to the moon.

8 responses to “Soyuz Rocket Gets Hit by Lightning After Launch, Keeps on Soyuzing”

  1. ThomasLMatula says:

    Yes, rockets make very good lightning rods ?

  2. Andrew Tubbiolo says:

    That’s really cool how the bolt reaches down the plume.

    • ThomasLMatula says:

      Yes, charged particles from the exhaust creates a pathway for the leader stroke to travel from the cloud to the ground and then you get the return bolt traveling up it. When I worked for Dr. Colgate at NM Tech I built model size rockets that trailed a wire for that purpose. They used them at the Langmuir Lab to trigger lightening bolts to study.

  3. savuporo says:

    Something to be said for the old Soviet engineering paradigms. Not a coincidence that only Soviets managed to land spacecraft on Venus and survive

  4. Malatrope says:

    Google Translate ( does a far better job:

    Congratulations to the command of the Space Forces, the combat crew of the Plesetsk cosmodrome, the teams of Progress Center (Samara), the S.Lavochkin Scientific Production Association (Khimki) and the Academician MF Reshetnyov AIDs with the successful launch of the GLONASS satellite!
    Lightning is not an obstacle for you

    – Dmitry Rogozin (@Rogozin) May 27, 2019

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