Atlantis Blasts Off Even After Lightnings and Stormy Weather

space shuttle AtlantisThe space shuttle Atlantis was set to blast off the International Space Station at 11:26 am EDT last Friday, which will be the final flight in the 30-year shuttle program.

NASA fuelled Atlantis and opened arrangements go on as planned in spite of stormy weather close to the launch pad near midday on Thursday.  Forecasters insist there still is a 70% possibility of heavy shower and rain.

As engineers got ready to move the Rotating Service Structure away from Atlantis, a heavy thunderstorm passed overhead, carrying rain and lightning that created two strikes close to the launch pad.

Data review showed the two strikes happened at 12:31 p.m. and 12:40 p.m. EDT.  The first struck the water tower 515 feet or 157 meters from the pad and the next struck the beach location northeast of the pad.

Until now, the information assessment designates no issues with some systems, counting shuttle Atlantis, External Tank, Solid Rocket Boosters, Space Shuttle Main Engines or Ground Support Equipment.

For the meantime, the Atlantis team is anticipated to encounter serious workload as just four astronauts are allocated to the final mission of NASA whereas it’s normally a six or seven-person team.

The team has been lessened from seven to four people as with no extra shuttle on reserve to do a rescue assignment in case of a misfortune, security risks are augmented.

If they will be strapped on the International Space Station they will have no option but to be shipped home in turns on board the Russian Soyuz craft, a procedure that can get many months.  Commander Christopher Ferguson, Pilot Doughlas Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim are the four member of the team.

Atlantis will take care of a year’s value of food, clothing, science equipment and supplies to the station, a $100 billion project of 16 nations that circles 220 miles over Earth.

NASA will work with the Russian Space Agency to send astronauts into space through Soyuz space shuttles of Russia after the space shuttle lasts.  NASA prepares on assisting open privately-run space shuttle program.