1970-02-01

Aspects of the Apollo 12 Lightning Incident 700938

Before the Apollo 12 mission, the effects of lightning on a space vehicle were considered only for the period prior to flight. Methods and procedures for coping with possible lightning strikes while the vehicle was on the ground have been in existence since the inception of the launch complex. The possibility of the vehicle becoming involved with lightning after liftoff was not a launch consideration, unless natural lightning activity was present near the launch site.
This paper discusses the significant elements of the lightning incident during the Apollo 12 launch. The paper describes what happened, why it happened, and what meteorological conditions could produce lightning with the presence of the launch vehicle. The action taken to minimize the possibility of creating a similar incident during future Apollo flights is presented.

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