Art and design






Life and style








US news

World news

Spacewatch: SpaceX reuses rocket to launch north American satellite

The SpaceX Falcon 9 lifting off in Florida on 11 October this year.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 lifting off in Florida on 11 October this year. Photograph: SpaceX/flickr

SpaceX set a brisk pace this week, with two successful launches of the Falcon 9 rocket. The second launch by the company – whose chief executive is its billionaire founder, Elon Musk – re-used a previously flown first stage booster, increasing confidence that SpaceX could deliver re-useable rockets and so drive down launch costs.

The first launch took place on 9 October. The rocket lifted off from the Vandenberg airforce base in California at 05:37 PDT (12:37 GMT). It placed 10 communications satellites in a 400-mile-high orbit for Iridium, the telecommunications company.

Iridium runs a constellation of telecommunications satellites. This launch is the first of eight launches scheduled that will place 75 satellites in orbit for the company.

On 11 October a second Falcon 9 rocket lifted off, this time from Kennedy Space Centre, in Florida. The launch took place at 18:53 EDT (22:53 GMT), and carried a larger communications satellite into orbit for SES and EchoStar.

This second launch was notable because it re-used a previously flown Falcon 9 first stage. This part of the rocket first launched last February when it boosted a Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station; it then flew back and soft landed in Florida for re-use. This booster has now landed back on Earth again, several hundred miles from Cape Canaveral on a drone ship.

Reusing significant spacecraft components is the key to SpaceX’s business model of reducing launch costs. After each flight this week all the first stages returned safely to Earth.

These launches bring the total of SpaceX launches this year to 15, establishing the company as a leading player in the satellite launch market. In September, Musk declared his intention to use his rockets to colonise Mars.

This article titled "Spacewatch: SpaceX reuses rocket to launch north American satellite" was written by Stuart Clark, for The Guardian on Thursday 12 October 2017 08.30pm


Earthlings likely to welcome alien life rather than panicking, study shows

“The fear I felt was no rational fear, but a panic terror,” wrote HG Wells, describing his… Read more

Breakthrough as scientists grow sheep embryos containing human cells

Growing human organs inside other animals has taken another step away from science-fiction, with… Read more

Conservators race against time to save film cels of classic Disney characters

Hands clasped, silver slippers together and with an air of gentle condescension, Snow White looks… Read more

How can I make money from my DNA?

If you unlock the secrets of your DNA by paying a company to read your genes, behind the scenes it… Read more

China’s great leap forward in science

I first met Xiaogang Peng in the summer of 1992 at Jilin University in Changchun, in the remote… Read more

George Church: "Genome sequencing is like the internet back in the late 1980s."

A new genetic testing company called Nebula Genomics wants to help people profit from their own… Read more

A child's gender can be detected in their speech from age five, research says

The gender of children can be picked up from their speech from as young as five years old,… Read more

Starwatch: a chance to bask in earthshine

This evening’s crescent moon brings with it a good chance of seeing earthshine. This is the faint… Read more

Artwork hidden under Picasso painting revealed by x-ray

Wrapped in a mustard coloured blanket with a white scarf and her head on one side, Pablo Picasso’s… Read more

Homo erectus may have been a sailor – and able to speak

They had bodies similar to modern humans, could make tools, and were possibly the first to cook.… Read more