Oct 8, 2018

SpaceX launches satellite, sticks its first West Coast rocket landing

SpaceX's Falcon9 rocket booster lights its engine as it makes its landing (left side), while the second stage of the rocket powers the satellite into space (right side). Image: SpaceX.

SpaceX launched a satellite for Argentina's space agency on Sunday evening and successfully landed the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket at its West Coast facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This was the company's first-ever dry-ground landing on the West Coast, at a launch pad that had previously been used by the Air Force dating back to the 1960s.

Why it matters: To date, SpaceX has been launching and recovering Falcon 9 rocket boosters at sea on the West Coast, but this was the first time it has recovered a rocket on land there.

The milestone means the space company has more flexibility to operate on the West Coast, launching payloads to a greater variety of orbits. Previous land recoveries had taken place at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Landing and reusing rockets is key to SpaceX's goal of reducing the cost of access to space. Other companies, such as Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, are also pursuing similar strategies of rocket recycling.

Go deeper: Special report: The new global race to space

Go deeper

Coronavirus pushes traditional businesses into the digital age

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A slew of old-line industries that once hesitated to embrace digital technologies are now being forced to do so for the sake of survival.

Why it matters: Once consumers get used to accessing services digitally — from older restaurants finally embracing online ordering, or newspapers finally going all-digital — these industries may find it hard to go back to traditional operations.

America's grimmest month

Trump gives his Sunday press briefing in the Rose Garden. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump asked Americans to continue social distancing until April 30, officials warned that tens or even hundreds of thousands of Americans could die — and that's the least depressing scenario.

Why it matters: April is going to be very hard. But public health officials are in agreement that hunkering down — in our own homes — and weathering one of the darkest months in American history is the only way to prevent millions of American deaths.

Exclusive: Civil rights leaders oppose swift move off natural gas

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Top American civil-rights activists are opposing an abrupt move away from natural gas, putting them at odds with environmentalists and progressive Democrats who want to ban fracking.

Driving the news: In recent interviews, Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and National Urban League President Marc Morial said energy costs are hitting people of color unfairly hard. These concerns, expressed before the coronavirus pandemic, are poised to expand as paychecks shrink across America.