SpaceX launches rocket from historic NASA pad in Florida | Reuters
By Irene Klotz | CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.
By Irene Klotz
| CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. A SpaceX Falcon rocket blasted off on Sunday from a Florida launch pad once used to send NASA astronauts to the moon, a step forward for billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk and his company's goal of ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station.The 229-foot tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 soared off a seaside launchpad at the Kennedy Space Center at 9:39 a.m. ET carrying a Dragon cargo ship bound for the station.Nine minutes after blastoff, the main section of the rocket flew back to a landing pad at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the eighth successful touchdown for Space Exploration Technologies Corp."Baby came back," Musk wrote on Twitter, celebrating the re-landing, which came a day after SpaceX decided to delay the mission 13 seconds before launch due to concerns about the steering system in the rocket's upper stage, the company said.Sunday's launch was the first for SpaceX from Launch Complex 39A, originally built for the 1960s-era Apollo moon program and later repurposed for the space shuttles.
The pad was last used for the final space shuttle launch in 2011. In 2014, SpaceX signed a 20-year lease to use pad and has spent millions remodeling it. The launch was also SpaceX's first from Florida since an accident in September heavily damaged what had been the company's prime site at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, located just south of the NASA spaceport.
Last month, SpaceX resumed flying its Falcon 9 rockets using a second launch pad in California, where the first stage of the rocket also nailed its re-landing. The company plans to reuse the rockets, slashing costs and allowing it to offer reduced pricing.The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which hired SpaceX to fly cargo to the station after the shuttle program ended, closely monitored the launch to learn more about the company's operations before it clears the company to fly NASA astronauts on SpaceX rockets.
SpaceX and Boeing Co (BA.N) are scheduled to begin flying crew to the station by the end of 2018. A Government Accountability Office report last week said both companies face technical hurdles that likely will delay their programs. SpaceX aims to have the Florida launchpad damaged in last year's explosion up and running by this summer. (Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Alan Crosby)
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By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.