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NASA Delays Shuttle Launch Until Monday 43

Posted by Zonk
from the lightning-is-a-good-excuse dept.
rfunches writes "The Associated Press and the New York Times are now reporting that Atlantis will not launch Sunday. The delay will 'give engineers more time to determine whether one of the most powerful lightning strikes ever at a Kennedy Space Center launch pad caused any problems. The lightning Friday didn't hit the shuttle — it struck a wire attached to a tower used to protect the spacecraft from such strikes at the launch pad — but it created a lightning field around the vehicle, NASA managers said. The launch, planned for Sunday, now won't happen until at least Monday.'"
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NASA Delays Shuttle Launch Until Monday

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  • Lighting field? (Score:4, Informative)

    by lee1026 (876806) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @06:49PM (#15986322)
    The summary talked about something called a "lightning field". As far as I am aware, there is no such thing. Can someone who is more knowledgeble about this tell us something? Or is it just a impressive name for a electo-mag field?
    • by FrostedWheat (172733) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @06:56PM (#15986353)
      It's where they grow the lightning.
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by andyh1978 (173377)
      The summary talked about something called a "lightning field". As far as I am aware, there is no such thing.
      Haven't you seen Flash Gordon?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by david.given (6740)

        Haven't you seen Flash Gordon?

        I am deeply, deeply ashamed to admit that I know exactly what you are talking about.

        Flaaaa-aaash...

    • Re:Lighting field? (Score:4, Informative)

      by ddillman (267710) <dgdillman@@@gmail...com> on Saturday August 26, 2006 @07:20PM (#15986439) Journal
      From the space.com [space.com] article:

      "It was certainly not a hit to the vehicle, I want to make that perfectly clear," said NASA launch director Michael Leinbach of the strike. "But you can get an induced voltage field around the lightning strike, and that's what we're looking at now."

      After reviewing data from the lighting strike, engineers detected a small spike in the voltage readings from one of the three electrical buses that supply power to certain systems aboard Atlantis, Cain said. The spike - in a unit known as Essential Bus 1 BC - spanned just 80 milliseconds, but was enough to begin checks to ensure none of the shuttle's systems were compromised during the lightning strike.

      • by solitas (916005)
        from the summary:

        "...it struck a wire attached to a tower used to protect the spacecraft from such strikes at the launch pad -- but it created a lightning field around the vehicle..."

        SO, then: it's a lightning protection system for the shuttle that didn't protect the shuttle systems from lightning (and a power surge)... Yup - that's nasa.

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          I don't know...maybe you just misread the section you quoted, so I'll clarify: it didn't strike the freaking shuttle and there's currently no indications of damage! At a million-plus volts and who knows how many amps, you're bound to end up with the some stray electrons dancing around. Unfortunately, when dumb reporters try to describe it by making terms like "lightning field," people who should know better (nerds) drink it in just like they do with "web 2.0" and "people-oriented solutions." Sorry if I'm a
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fermion (181285) *
      This is one reason why blaming teachers for American problems is so silly. When newscaster talk about a lighting field, when real estate agents talk about square footage, when the president brags that he never reads, how can a teacher compete? The conceptual errors propagated by those who have the press are insurmountable.
      • by dgatwood (11270)

        I understand the other complaints, but what's wrong with "square footage"? The term appears in the dictionary in that usage. That's a perfectly cromulent term.

        • by saskboy (600063)
          Your home could have 1500 square feet of floor, but it doesn't mean you'll get 8' of walls everywhere.
          • by AJWM (19027)
            The last place I want an 8' wall is where a door should be ;-)

            Seriously, the real estate trade has a definition of "square footage" -- that's finished, livable space. Unfinished basements don't count. Garages don't count. Crawl spaces don't count.

            That said, they do tend to estimate based on overall dimensions or county assessment office records, it's not like they subtract out closets and stairways.
  • by w33t (978574) * on Saturday August 26, 2006 @06:49PM (#15986325) Homepage
    Seeing news move this quickly reminds me of the Futurama episode "Time Keeps On Slipping", where time was skipping forward by hours, days and weeks every few minutes.

    LINDA:...Turning to entertainment news, teen singer Wendy might just be the latest
    [Time skips.]
    LINDA:...won three Grammys last night
    [Time skips. The picture of Wendy behind her has a "2984 - 3002" caption below it.]
    LINDA:...found dead in her bathtub.

  • by reality-bytes (119275) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @06:56PM (#15986352) Homepage
    Still image from Camera 145 [nasa.gov]. Still image from Camera 147 [nasa.gov]

    Video Real (buffering) [edgesuite.net]

    Video Windows codec [edgesuite.net]
  • Johnny 5 (Score:5, Funny)

    by macadamia_harold (947445) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @07:17PM (#15986430) Homepage
    The delay will 'give engineers more time to determine whether one of the most powerful lightning strikes ever at a Kennedy Space Center launch pad caused any problems.

    That depends. Do they consider sentient robot life to be a "problem"?
  • A lightening field? That sounds like it would be beneficial to the shuttle or to any spacecraft.

    What?.. What?.. WHAT?

    OH! a lightning field... Nevermind.

    :wq
  • is that God decided it was time to smite Pat Robertson, but unfortunately missed by about 800 miles,... ;-)
  • I was outside our building once watching one of the rare lightning storms we get in this area, when a bolt struck the flagpole in front of our building, about 50 feet away. It was the largest explosion I've ever heard, not at all like regular thunder, just a sudden BOOM!!! that was incredibly loud. I felt deaf for a few seconds but as that faded away I heard constant ringing. Every fire alarm in the building was going off. And a number of our computers were damaged. My computer's serial port stopped working
  • by AJWM (19027)
    Apollo 12 was struck by lightning shortly after launch. Aside from a few tense moments while circuit breakers were reset, etc, it made orbit okay and proceeded on to do a pinpoint landing on the Moon (within walking distance of Surveyor III).

    And they're worried about an 80 msec blip on one bus?

    (Okay, it doesn't hurt to check it out. If they do find any showstoppers it says something about the relative robustness of the Apollo-Saturn stack vs Shuttle.)
    • If a strike happens after launch there is no ground path so the currents involved are far smaller which means far less EM field & damage.

      Being struck on the ground is far worse, but you'd hope they have adequate lightning protection built into the tower etc.

      • Nope, you're wrong -- or you're thinking about conventional aircraft.

        A Saturn V launch leaves a very nice path to ground through the ionized gas (flame) and carbon smoke (rich-burning kerosene fuel) trail it's pouring out the back end. That's why the thing got hit in the first place. To quote from a web page on the strike [aerospaceweb.org]: "As the rocket accelerated through the low-altitude rain clouds, it behaved much like a lightning rod. A bolt of electricity struck the vehicle and traveled to the ground along the colu

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