News / Science & Technology

    SpaceX Falcon Rocket Lifts Off With Thaicom Digital TV Satellite

    Liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the THAICOM 6 satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit, Jan. 6, 2014. (SpaceX photo)A
    Liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the THAICOM 6 satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit, Jan. 6, 2014. (SpaceX photo)A
    Reuters
    A Space Exploration Technologies' Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Monday to put a commercial communications spacecraft into orbit for Thai satellite operator Thaicom.
     
    The 224-foot (68-meter) tall rocket burst off its seaside launch pad at 5:06 p.m. EST (2206 GMT), soaring through overcast skies as it headed toward the satellite's drop-off point more than 55,000 miles (88,500 km) above Earth or about one-quarter of the way to the moon.
     
    From that position, the 6,649-pound (3,016 kg) Thaicom 6 satellite is designed to lower itself to about 22,300 miles (35,888 km) above Earth and shift the angle of its orbit so that it can be permanently stationed to beam high-definition and digital television services to customers in Thailand and surrounding areas.
     
    The satellite, built by Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp , also is equipped to provide other communications services for customers in Southeast Asia and Africa, including Madagascar, Thaicom's website shows.
     
    Including launch services and insurance, the Thaicom 6 satellite cost about $160 million, according to Thaicom. So far, about two-thirds of the satellite's capacity has been sold, according to Thaicom.
     
    Monday's launch was the second in just over a month for Space Exploration Technologies, also known as SpaceX.
     
    In December, the California-based firm, owned and operated by technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, who also serves as chief executive of Tesla Motors car company, launched its first commercial communications satellite, staking a claim in a global satellite launch industry worth about $6.5 billion a year, a study by the Satellite Industry Association trade group shows.
     
    So far, privately owned SpaceX has sold about 50 commercial launches worth about $40 billion. About 25 percent of the flights are for NASA, which hired SpaceX, along with Orbital Sciences, to fly cargo to the International Space Station, a $100 billion research complex that flies about 250 miles (about 400 km) above Earth.
     
    SpaceX's next flight, slated for late February, will be the third of 12 station resupply missions under its $1.6 billion NASA contract.
     
    Orbital Sciences, which holds a separate $1.9 billion NASA contract, is preparing to launch the first of its eight station cargo runs on Wednesday. The company's Antares rockets fly from a commercial spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia.
     
    Before Monday's launch, Falcon 9 rockets had flown seven times, all successfully, though on its first cargo flight to the station, in October 2012, one of the rocket's nine first-stage engines shut down prematurely.
     
    Other motors compensated, and the rocket was able to deliver its Dragon cargo ship to the intended orbit without a problem.
     
    SpaceX is working on three parallel programs to expand its business and cut costs, including reusing its first-stage boosters. However, a proposed demonstration to restart the engine so it could cushion the splashdown into the ocean was not attempted on the Thaicom 6 mission, said SpaceX spokeswoman Emily Shanklin.
     
    Heavy-lift Falcon Mission
     
    In addition, the company is working on a 27-engine, heavy-lift Falcon rocket as well as a version of its Dragon cargo capsule that can carry astronauts and other passengers to the space station.
     
    A Falcon Heavy demonstration mission from SpaceX's second launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California is slated for 2014, the company's website shows.
     
    A successful mission on Monday also could clear SpaceX to enter a lucrative competition to launch U.S. military reconnaissance and communications satellites, a service now exclusively provided by United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.