Lightning struck a Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with a Glonass-M navigation satellite during its blastoff from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in north Russia, Chief of the Plesetsk Cosmodrome Major-General Nikolai Nestechuk said on Monday.
As the launch vehicle lifted off from the launch pad, it was struck by lightning. Despite this, all the rocket equipment worked normally and the satellite was delivered into orbit within the designated time.
"The launch was carried out in the normal mode. The weather is not an obstacle and we [the Space Force of Russia’s Aerospace Forces] are all-weather troops. This is yet another proof that lightning cannot damage our aerospace weapons," TASS quoted the spaceport’s chief as saying.
A source in the space industry said earlier on Monday, citing telemetric data that a lightning hit the nose fairing and the third stage of a Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket during its launch from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in north Russia.
"During the liftoff, lightning struck the nose fairing and the third stage of the carrier rocket, which was recorded by telemetric data transmitted from the rocket to the ground-based control center," the source said.
The incident did not affect the operation of the carrier rocket’s systems as Soyuz spacecraft are equipped with the protection mechanism against such phenomena," the source said.
The Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with the Glonass-M navigation satellite blasted off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome at 09:23 Moscow time on May 27. The carrier rocket successfully delivered the Glonass-M navigation satellite into the designated orbit within the designated time.
Specialists of the Titov Main Testing Space Center of the Aerospace Forces’ Space Force have assumed control of the space vehicle.
This is the first launch of a Soyuz 2 carrier rocket from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome this year.
Russia’s Glonass orbital grouping currently comprises 26 satellites, of which 24 are operating according to their functional designation, one is at the stage of flight tests and the other is in the orbital reserve. About 15 satellites are operating beyond their service life.