That Time Apollo 12 Got Struck by Lightning, Twice

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“Set SCE to Aux” is still quoted regularly when we do disaster recovery testing in IT. 🙂


Am I the only other person who remembers it? Seems like that sometimes.


I’m surprised they don’t used the phonetic alphabet for terms like SME to save confusion during comms.


Florida is one of the best places in the US to launch rockets from. It has a low latitude closer to the equator, which is advantageous because you get access to more inclinations without a huge delta-V burden. And it has easy access to a big “launch range” out to the East in the form of the Atlantic Ocean. But on the minus side it’s also one of the most active regions in the entire world for thunderstorms. Something like one in five days on average in Florida experience a thunderstorm. And, as it turns out, when you fly a rocket into an active thunderstorm the heated and partially ionized rocket exhaust is like connecting a wire to the Earth and becomes a magnet for lightning strikes. Can you make a rocket that can survive a lightning strike? Certainly, but it’s not easy. In the case of Apollo 12 they managed to not only survive but complete their main mission of landing on the Moon. But it’s not ideal, and they sort of got lucky. In practice it’s just been easier to wait out thunderstorms and avoid launching during them.


If this isn’t one or more gods saying “NO!!!” I don’t know what is