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Watch lightning strike SpaceX Starship prototype

Lightning covers the sky around the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center. (RED HUBER/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

Lightning storms aren’t just a problem at Kennedy Space Center. SpaceX has to deal with the threat at its Starship base in Texas as well.

Twitter user @LabPadre posted video from a serious light show that connected with hardware at the SpaceX Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas on Friday.

Elon Musk chimed in on Twitter to confirm the light show was real. The storm looks like it makes contact with Starship prototype SN20, which the company looks to use on a first orbital test flight for the design. So far, all Starship prototype launches have been short hops not exceeding 10 km.

The Federal Aviation Administration still needs to finalize an environmental impact statement for the proposed flight, but the company had previously stated its intention to fly in late 2021.

LabPadre runs a website, YouTube and other social channels dedicated to 24-hour coverage of the SpaceX site that’s developing the company’s next-generation rocket to replace Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy.

Lightning has plagued space operations from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station for years, delaying launches, and forcing inspections of hardware.

Sentinel photographer Red Huber captured a great photo of a lightning storm with KSC’s Vehicle Assembly Building in the foreground in July 2009 ahead of the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-127.

In 1969, the Saturn V rocket that lifted off from KSC on Apollo 12 was actually struck by lightning twice on its ascent.

“What the hell was that?” said astronaut Richard Gordon when the first lightning bolt hit his rocket.

Gordon, Alan Bean and Pete Conrad survived the strike and went on to complete the second lunar landing of the Apollo program.


© 2021 Orlando Sentinel

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