News / Science & Technology

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Blasts Off

A Falcon 9 rocket carrying a small science satellite for Canada is seen as it is launched, Sept. 29, 2013.
A Falcon 9 rocket carrying a small science satellite for Canada is seen as it is launched, Sept. 29, 2013.
Reuters
— An unmanned Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from California on Sunday to test upgrades before commercial satellite launch services begin later this year.
 
The 22-story rocket, built and flown by Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, soared off a newly refurbished, leased launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Station.
 
The Falcon 9 blazed through clear blue skies out over the Pacific Ocean, its water vapor trail visible even as the rocket left the atmosphere.
 
“It went better than expected. It was incredibly smooth,” SpaceX founder and Chief Executive Elon Musk told Reuters after the launch.
 
Nestled inside the rocket's new 17-foot (5-meter) diameter nose cone was a small Canadian science satellite called Cassiope. Cassiope had initially been scheduled to fly on SpaceX's now-discontinued Falcon 1 launcher in 2008.
 
“It's certainly a huge relief to have successfully delivered Cassiope to orbit. It's been weighing on me quite heavily,” Musk said.
 
Cassiope, which is designed to monitor the space environment around Earth and serve as a communications satellite, and five secondary payloads were delivered into their intended orbits, Musk told reporters on a conference call.
 
As an experiment, both of the rocket's two stages were restarted during flight.
 
Musk is particularly interested in developing the technology to fly the Falcon's first stage back to the launch site or have it gently splash down in the water so its motors can be recovered, refurbished and flown again. Currently, after delivering their payloads into orbit, the boosters tumble back toward Earth and essentially explode mid-air before crashing into the sea.
 
“The most revolutionary thing about the new Falcon 9 is the potential ability to recover the boost phase, which is almost three-quarters of the cost of the rocket,” Musk said.
 
Neither engine restart test went perfectly, but engineers were able to get enough data to plan on a demonstration flight next year.
 
“The most important thing is we now believe we have all the pieces of the puzzle,” Musk said.
 
The upgraded Falcon 9 v1.1 has engines that are 60 percent more powerful than previous versions, longer fuel tanks, new avionics and software and other features intended to boost lift capacity and simplify operations for commercial service.
 
Privately-owned SpaceX has contracts for more than 50 launches of its new Falcon 9 and planned Falcon Heavy rockets.
 
Ten of those missions are to fly cargo to the International Space Station for NASA. The other customers are non-U.S. government agencies and commercial satellite operators.
 
SpaceX also has two contracts for small U.S. Air Force satellites but is looking to break the monopoly that United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, has on flying big military satellites as well.
 
SpaceX has already flown three Dragon capsules to the station and made two other successful test flights with older versions of the Falcon.
 
Falcon 9's next mission is to put a communications satellite into orbit for SES World Skies. The launch is targeted for next month and will take place at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
 
“We accomplished a lot today,” Musk said. “We have a little bit of work to do obviously, but all-in-all I think it's been a great day.”

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid