SpaceX rocket lifts off on first launch for US military

A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket carrying a classified satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office lifts off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Monday. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Updated 01 May 2017
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SpaceX rocket lifts off on first launch for US military

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Florida on Monday, carrying the company’s first satellite for the US military, and breaking a 10-year monopoly held by a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
The 23-story tall rocket took off from its seaside launch pad at Kennedy Space Center at 7:15 a.m. EDT (1115 GMT.)
It will put into orbit a classified satellite for the US National Reconnaissance Office, an agency within the Defense Department that operates the nation’s spy satellites.
Nine minutes after takeoff, the rocket’s main section touched down on a landing pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, just south of NASA’s spaceport.
Last month, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. flew its first recovered booster on a second mission, a key step in company founder Elon Musk’s quest to cut launch costs.
The National Reconnaissance Office bought SpaceX’s launch services via a contract with Ball Aerospace, a Colorado-based satellite and instrument builder. The terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Musk battled for years to break the monopoly on the military’s launch business held by United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
SpaceX sued the US Air Force in 2014 over its exclusive multibillion-dollar contract with United Launch Alliance. The company later dropped the suit after the military agreed to open more launch contacts to competitive bidding.
SpaceX has since won two launch contracts from the Air Force to send up Global Positioning System satellites in 2018 and 2019.
Monday’s launch was the 34th mission for SpaceX and the fifth of more than 20 flights planned for this year.
The privately owned firm, based in Hawthorne, California, has a backlog of more than 70 missions, worth about $10 billion.


Kenya reassures public after Ebola false alarm

Updated 13 min 48 sec ago
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Kenya reassures public after Ebola false alarm

  • Kariuki spelt out a list of preventive measures that Kenya had already taken

NAIROBI: Kenya sought to reassure the public and foreign visitors on Monday after a suspected Ebola case, which turned out to be negative, was detected near the border with Uganda.

Uganda last week reported three cases of Ebola, two of them fatal, among people who had been to neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where an epidemic has been underway since last August.

Kenyan Health Minister Sicily Kariuki said a 36-year-old woman in the western county of Kericho had fallen ill with headache, fever and vomiting, which can also be symptoms of Ebola.

Further examination found she did not have the disease, Kariuki said at a press conference staged at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

“The Rapid Surveillance and Response Team has examined the patient, who is in stable condition, and has confirmed that she does not meet the case definition for Ebola,” she said.

“I wish to reassure all Kenyans and our visitors that we do not have any cases of Ebola.”

The Ugandan cases were confirmed in a town that is more than 600 km from the border with Kenya.

Kariuki spelt out a list of preventive measures that Kenya had already taken.

They included the installation of thermal cameras at entry points to detect people with high temperatures, as well as isolation units to host suspected cases. More than 250 Health Ministry workers have been deployed at entry points as part of this strategy.

The minister called on the public to be vigilant, urging anyone with Ebola-like symptoms who had traveled to affected countries to go to the nearest hospital.