Lightning Strikes Russian Rocket During Satellite Launch (But Everything's Fine)

A bolt of lightning struck a Russian Soyuz rocket during a satellite launch Monday (May 27), but did not hinder the booster's trip into space, Russian space officials said. 

The lightning strike occurred during the launch of a Glonass-M navigation satellite from Russia's Plesetsk Cosmodrome about 500 miles (800 kilometers) north of Moscow at 9:23 a.m. Moscow time (0623 GMT). In a statement, officials with Russia's space agency Roscosmos announced that the rocket successfully reached orbit. 

"Lightning is not an obstacle for you!" Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin wrote on Twitter while congratulating the Glonass-M launch team and military Space Forces. He shared a wild video of rocket as it was struck by lightning. 

Related: Watch Video of the Soyuz Rocket Launch Lightning Strike!

A Russian Soyuz 2.1b rocket is struck by lightning as it launches a Glonass-M navigation satellite into orbit from Plesetsk Cosmodrome on May 27, 2019.  (Image credit: Roscosmos/Dmitry Rogozin via Twitter)

Roscosmos used a Soyuz 2.1b booster equipped with a Fregat upper stage to launch Glonass-M, the latest in a series of navigation satellites to support Russia's military and civilian customers. 

"A stable telemetric connection is established and maintained with the spacecraft," officials with Russia's Ministry of Defense wrote in this translated update. "The on-board systems of the Glonass-M spacecraft are functioning normally."

Lightning strikes during rocket launches are rare, but not unprecedented. 

In November 1969, lightning struck a Saturn V rocket twice during the launch of NASA's Apollo 12 mission to the moon

A Russian Soyuz 2.1b rocket launches the Glonass-M navigation satellite into orbit from Plesetsk Cosmodrome on May 27, 2019. (Image credit: Roscosmos/Russian Ministry of Defence)

The jolt disrupted some onboard displays for Apollo 12's three-man crew, but the Saturn V successfully reached orbit. After a careful systems review, flight controllers ultimately found Apollo 12's systems in good health and the moon landing mission went on as planned.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.