SpaceX’s first recycled Dragon arrives at space station

The SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage booster rocket lands. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP)
Updated 05 June 2017
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SpaceX’s first recycled Dragon arrives at space station

MIAMI: SpaceX’s first-ever recycled spaceship arrived Monday at the International Space Station, two days after the unmanned Dragon cargo capsule launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Live images on NASA television showed the spaceship approaching the orbiting outpost, then being grabbed with the station’s robotic arm at 9:52 am (1352 GMT).
“Capture complete,” said NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who operated the robotic arm from inside the station.
The spaceship is carrying almost 6,000 pounds (2,700 kilograms) of science research, crew supplies and hardware.
It was originally flown on SpaceX’s fourth resupply mission in 2014.
Its arrival makes it the first US spaceship to return to the space station since the American space shuttle program ended in 2011.
The latest mission is SpaceX’s 11th cargo resupply trip to the ISS under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA.
“We also want to note the special significance of SpaceX 11, which if we followed the naming convention of the artist Prince, could be called ‘The SpaceX formerly known as SpaceX 4,’” quipped NASA astronaut Jack Fischer as he spoke to mission control in Houston.
“We have a new generation of vehicles now, led by commercial partners like SpaceX, as they build the infrastructure that will carry us into the future of exploration,” he said.
“Now we’d better get back to work. We have a lot of stuff to unload.”
SpaceX is working on a version of its Dragon capsule that will carry crew to the space station, perhaps as early as next year.
The California-based company headed by Elon Musk also regularly returns the first stage of its Falcon 9 rockets to upright landings on Earth, as part of an effort to increase reusability and lower the cost of spaceflight.


UN gives Myanmar aid cut warning over Rohingya camp closures

Updated 18 June 2019
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UN gives Myanmar aid cut warning over Rohingya camp closures

  • Myanmar has closed several camps holding around 9,000 Rohingya
  • They have not been allowed to return to their former homes and remain dependent on handouts

YANGON: The UN has warned it will pare back aid to thousands of Rohingya Muslims left destitute as Myanmar’s government closes camps in Rakhine state, over fears its continued support “risks entrenching segregation.”
Aid agencies are facing an increasingly sharp dilemma in the region as they balance relief for desperate communities with leverage over the government.
The majority of Myanmar’s Rohingya were driven into Bangladesh by a 2017 army crackdown, but around 400,000 remain inside conflict-battered Rakhine.
Those include nearly 130,000 held since 2012 in squalid camps, currently supported by UN agencies and humanitarian groups.
As part of its strategy to address the crisis, Myanmar has closed several camps holding around 9,000 Rohingya.
But they have not been allowed to return to their former homes and remain dependent on handouts. Instead, they are being settled in new accommodation close to the former camps.
That has sparked fears aid agencies are effectively being used to prop-up a policy that fails to address the fundamental needs of the Rohingya, including housing, work, food and security.
The camp closure plan “risks entrenching segregation,” UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar Knut Ostby wrote to the government in a leaked letter, dated 6 June and seen by AFP.
The letter, also written on behalf of aid groups, warned support “beyond life-saving assistance” at the closed sites would in future be linked to “tangible” progress made on “the fundamental issue of freedom of movement.”
“Life-saving” support includes food, health and water, but site planning, shelter construction and education facilities could be phased out, aid agency sources told AFP.
The UN has faced criticism for a slow response to violence against the Rohingya, which escalated after 2012 riots between Muslim Rohingyas and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists.
A UN report released Monday admitted “systemic failures” in its handling of the build-up to the Rohingya crisis.
Limited access to Rakhine’s camps makes independent reporting on conditions difficult.
But AFP has reviewed recent interviews conducted in five camps by an NGO requesting anonymity to protect its work.
“If I build a house, it can be seized arbitrarily,” one Rohingya man said.
“I have no right to the land and I can also be arrested at any time.”
An aid worker called the remaining 23 sites in Rakhine little more than “concentration camps.”
On condition of anonymity, she spoke of the “complicity” humanitarian staff feel for perpetuating the segregation.
Amnesty International has described Rakhine as an “apartheid state.”
All aid must be “heavily conditioned,” researcher Laura Haigh said, warning donors that building infrastructure could make them complicit in crimes against humanity.
The government defended the camp closures, telling AFP it would continue working with the UN and NGOs on the issue.
Any former camp resident holding a National Verification Card (NVC) will be able to “move freely within their township” and access “education, health facilities and livelihood activities,” the social welfare ministry said.
Most Rohingya refuse to apply for the card believing they should already be treated as full citizens.
Those interviewed said the few to have caved had no more rights than anyone else.
They were also forced to designate themselves as “Bengali,” a term implying they are from Bangladesh.
“They are just trying to dominate us and make us illegal through different ways,” one Rohingya man said.