Photo: Lightning bolt strikes launch pad at Kennedy Space Center
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - After back-to-back days of storms forced SpaceX to delay the launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket, SpaceX has plans for two rocket launches on Friday evening from Florida's Space Coast.
One of the towers at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A was struck by lightning during Thursday night's storms (see photo below). In a tweet, SpaceX said the rocket and tower were inspected, and "all systems are looking good."
Livestreamer LabPadre captured a lightning bolt strike Thursday just after 7:50 p.m. EDT near the launch pad where SpaceX's ViaSat-3 heavy lift rocket sat after its launch was scrubbed earlier in the day. It was one of thousands of lightning strikes to hit the area Thursday.
Each of the launch pads at Kennedy Space Center have some sort of lightning protection equipment in place. At nearby United Launch Alliance's launch pad, four metal towers surround the launch tower, each with a white fiberglass insulator that ULA rocket scientist Jim Kennedy calls "candlesticks."
A grid of wires goes directly above the rocket, and the web connects down to points on the ground. If lightning were to strike any of the points, the system creates the shortest path to the ground, diverting energy away from the rocket and nearby fueling tanks.
"Every pad has its own system. They're all doing the same thing," Kennedy told FOX Weather during an interview last August. "It's all the same calculations on how to protect it. It's just how is that pad is set up; what is the best way for it?"
Here is a look at the next two rocket launches for SpaceX.
SpaceX SES O3b mPOWER mission
The space agency is targeting Friday, April 28 for a Falcon 9 launch of the SES O3b mPOWER mission to medium-Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The 88-minute launch window opens at 5:12 p.m. ET.
A backup opportunity is scheduled on Saturday, April 29.
SpaceX ViaSat-3 Americas Mission
SpaceX is also targeting Friday, April 28 for a Falcon Heavy launch of the ViaSat-3 Americas mission to geostationary orbit from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Also on board this mission is Astranis's first MicroGEO satellite and Gravity Space’s GS-1 satellite.
The 57-minute launch window opens at 7:29 p.m. ET.
"They’re going to have to do a thorough evaluation of the pad and the rocket and the satellite and all the systems to make sure nothing was damaged by those lightning strikes at the pad and nearby the pad that we saw," said Space Journalist Ken Kremer.
Kremer said the reason launching with lightning around is so dangerous is because of the rocket fuel and the potential of it igniting.
FOX 35 News reached out to SpaceX for comment.
FOX Weather contributed to this report. Get updates at FOXWeather.com.