This Is Why the Shuttle Launch Is Delayed

It's hard to launch a Space Shuttle when the launch pad keeps getting struck by lighting. NASA cameras caught 11 lightning strikes, including one direct hit to the pad, near the space shuttle Endeavour's launch pad, during a thunderstorm on July 10.

The storm forced the space agency to call for a 24-hour delay to inspect the shuttle for possible damage. One spectacular strike even hit the top of the launch pad's lightning rod, which channeled the electricity harmlessly away from the shuttle through a series of metal wires.

Kennedy Space Center has experienced plenty of thunderstorms at Cape Canaveral, Florida over the years. Fortunately, no lightning has ever struck a shuttle sitting on the launch pad.

Today represents the fifth launch attempt for Endeavour, after previous delays arose from the combination of a gas leak and bad weather. NASA has until about July 14 to launch the shuttle, before it must stand down and permit a Russian Soyuz cargo ship to launch to the International Space Station. Shuttle launch attempts can then resume on July 27.