Vandenberg Air Force Base, Oct 8 (AP/UNB) — A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carried an Argentinian Earth-observation satellite into space Sunday and for the first time landed a first-stage booster back at its California launch site.
The primary purpose of the mission was to place the SAOCOM 1A satellite into orbit, but SpaceX also wanted to expand its recovery of first stages to its launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 130 miles (209 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles.
SpaceX had previously flown first-stage rockets back to land after Florida launches but had not done so on the West Coast.
The Air Force last week advised residents on the central California coast they might see multiple engine burns by the first stage and hear one or more sonic booms as it returned.
SpaceX also has successfully landed Falcon 9 first stages on so-called drone ships off the coasts of Florida and California, all as part of its effort to decrease the cost of space launches by reusing rockets rather than allowing them to fall into the ocean.
The satellite is the first of two for Argentina's space agency, Comision Nacional de Actividades Espaciales, and will work in conjunction with a constellation of Italian space agency satellites. Its name is short for Satelite Argentino de Observacion Con Microondas.
SAOCOM 1A carries a high-resolution instrument called a synthetic aperature radar that will be used for emergency management during disasters and for land monitoring. The second satellite will be SAOCOM 1B.
Stockholm, Oct 3 (AP/UNB) — The Nobel Prize in chemistry has been awarded to two researchers in the United States and one in Britain.
Half of the 9-million-kronor ($1.01 million) prize was designated for Frances Arnold of Caltech in Pasadena for work that has led to the development of new biofuels and pharmaceuticals.
The other half of the prize will be shared by George Smith of the University of Missouri and Gregory Winter of the MRC Laboratory in Cambridge. They were honored for "phage display of peptides and antibodies."
Paris, Oct 2 (AP/UNB) — All-electric vehicles with zero emissions are among the stars of the Paris Motor Show — rubbing shoulders with the fossil-fuel burning SUVs that many car buyers love.
Volkswagen's Audi and Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz both on Tuesday showed off battery-powered SUVs for affluent customers.
Mercedes also had a new, bigger version of its conventionally powered GLE sport-utility, while BMW offers a new version of its X-5 SUV that has been a pillar of sales and earnings.
The model mix at the show underlined the contradictions pulling at the industry. The European Union and China are pushing for more electric and hybrid vehicles to reduce greenhouse gases and pollution, while consumers like SUVs and remain reluctant to buy electrics due to cost and range limitations.
Cape Canaveral, Sep 26 (AP/UNB) — NASA's Mars rover, Opportunity, has been seen, but still not heard.
A spacecraft around Mars has sent back a photo of Opportunity, which has been silent ever since a massive dust storm engulfed the red planet in late spring. The rover appears in the photo as a pale dot.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took the picture last week from 166 miles (267 kilometers) up. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory released the photo Tuesday.
The global dust storm prevented sunlight from reaching Opportunity's solar panels, and the rover fell silent in June. Although the skies have cleared considerably, Opportunity has yet to send word to flight controllers. NASA has stepped up efforts to contact Opportunity, but acknowledge the nearly 15-year-old rover may not have survived the prolonged power outage.
Tokyo, Sep 23 (AP/UNB)— An unmanned Japanese space capsule is headed to the International Space Station filled with cargo including food, experiments and new batteries.
The craft was launched Sunday at 2:52 a.m. from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. It will take 4 ½ days to reach the space station.
The launch was delayed for about two weeks because of bad weather and a mechanical problem.
The delay has led NASA to postpone two space walks to install the six lithium-ion batteries until new crew members arrive next month. They will replace aging nickel-hydrogen batteries for the station's electric power, enabling an extension of its operations.
The supply ship is a 9-meter- (30-foot-) long cylinder that will be retrieved by the space station's robotic arm. It is named Kounotori, which means white stork.
The 5,500 kilograms (12,000 pounds) of cargo includes racks and equipment for experiments and an experimental re-entry capsule to try to demonstrate a novel technology to bring back samples from the space station.
Once it is unloaded, the supply craft will be filled with trash and sent Earth-ward. It will be destroyed when it re-enters the atmosphere.