Why Kennedy Space Center is Artemis 1’s primary launch site despite lightning hazards

There are many reasons for rocket launches scheduled by NASA to be canceled. Artemis 1’s scheduled Monday morning launch has been pushed back until at least Friday due to a series of mechanical issues. But even before that, we got a glimpse of another potential threat to launch plans: lightning. Several bright flashes were filmed on Saturday, striking large towers positioned around the launch pad. These towers are specially designed to deflect lightning away from the rocket and other important structures on the pad. NASA has very strict criteria for launch weather conditions. This includes holding a launch if there is a threat or detection of lightning within 10 nautical miles of a flight path. According to meteorologist Chris Vagasky, who specializes in lightning data applications, Florida records an average of 14 million lightning strikes each year. “Lightning is a daily concern in the summer in Florida, where there are interactions between land and sea breezes.” “Given this high risk, why is NASA using Kennedy Space Center as its primary launch facility? There are two main reasons: public safety and energy efficiency. Cape Canaveral’s location on the The Atlantic coast puts launch paths over the open sea, so if anything were to go wrong, it would happen over water rather than in populated land areas.helps give a rocket a little kick extra inch due to Earth’s rotation. This is because areas closer to the equator rotate around the Earth’s axis faster than areas closer to the poles. For example, if you were to standing on the ground in Sacramento you’d be fishing at around 750 mph around the Earth’s axis. At Cape Canaveral you’d be spinning at around 900 mph. The difference is small compared to the 25,000 mph speed needed for Artemis 1 kind of terrestrial gravity re, but every move counts when it comes to saving rocket fuel. So, despite the risk of lightning, NASA Kennedy is well positioned to perform rocket launches. Vagasky said as we move into September, the risk of lightning along Florida’s Atlantic coast slowly decreases as we lose some of the heat that fuels thunderstorms. For now, Vagasky said the weather outlook is favorable for Friday’s potential launch window.

There are many reasons for rocket launches scheduled by NASA to be canceled.

Artemis 1’s scheduled Monday morning launch has been pushed back until at least Friday due to a series of mechanical issues. But even before that, we got a glimpse of another potential threat to launch plans: lightning.

Several bright flashes were filmed on Saturday, striking large towers positioned around the launch pad. These towers are specially designed to deflect lightning away from the rocket and other important structures on the pad.

NASA has very strict criteria for launch weather. This includes holding a launch if there is a threat or detection of lightning within 10 nautical miles of a flight path.

According to meteorologist Chris Vagasky, who specializes in lightning data applications, Florida records an average of 14 million lightning strikes each year.

“Lightning is a daily concern during the summer in Florida where you have interactions between land and sea breezes,” Vagasky said. “You can sort of set your watch on it.”

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Given this high risk, why is NASA using Kennedy Space Center as its primary launch facility? There are two main reasons: public safety and energy efficiency.

Cape Canaveral’s location on the Atlantic coast places the launchways above the open ocean. If something went wrong, it would happen over water rather than in populated land areas.

NASA Kennedy is also about as far south as you can get in the continental United States. This helps give a rocket a little extra boost from the Earth’s rotation. This is because areas closer to the equator rotate around the Earth’s axis faster than areas closer to the poles. For example, if you were to stand on the ground in Sacramento, you would be fishing at around 750 mph around the Earth’s axis. At Cape Canaveral, you were running at about 900 mph.

The difference is small compared to the 25,000 mph speed needed for Artemis 1 to break out of Earth’s gravity, but every move counts when it comes to saving rocket fuel.

So, despite the risk of lightning, NASA Kennedy is well positioned to perform rocket launches.

Vagasky said that as we move into September, the risk of lightning along Florida’s Atlantic coast slowly decreases as we lose some of the heat that fuels thunderstorms. For now, Vagasky said the weather outlook is favorable for Friday’s potential launch window.

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