Historic Falcon Heavy launch scheduled: What to know

Published: Saturday, February 03, 2018 @ 6:58 PM

The Falcon Heavy rocket is scheduled to launch Tuesday. (Photo: SpaceX)
The Falcon Heavy rocket is scheduled to launch Tuesday. (Photo: SpaceX)

The Space Coast is owning up to its nickname as research and launch activity ramps up for the planned Tuesday ascent of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket.

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This mega mission is scheduled to blast off at 1:30 p.m. from the very same pad (39A) used for the Apollo missions. SpaceX’s pad was damaged in September 2016 when a rocket exploded.

The Falcon Heavy rocket will be a test launch, starting cost $90 million. This heavy lift vehicle can place about 68.3 metric tons in low Earth orbit. The most a rocket has carried to orbit was the Saturn V with about 118 metric tons, used in the Apollo program in the 1960s and 1970s, and to launch the Skylab space station. The most recent version of a single Falcon 9 rocket can lift 13.2 tons.

Elon Musk's red Tesla will be on board the Falcon Heavy. (Photo: SpaceX)

Weather won’t likely prevent the launch, which has an 80 percent go. The forecast includes thick clouds with 10 to 15 mph south winds.

Here's more about the historic Falcon Heavy liftoff:

It is a test flight.

It is essentially three rockets bolted together to make the heavy vehicle. 

Falcon Heavy weighs more than 3.1 million pounds (loaded with kerosene and liquid oxygen) and it's about 229 feet tall.

The middle booster will carry Elon Musk’s own Red Tesla Roadster. The Roadster is planned to be near Mars’ orbit in a precession Earth Mars elliptical orbit around the sun. The mission will try to prove that it is possible to put payloads into an orbit intersecting Mars. This would help in the mission to put humans in Mars.

Musk presented this project in 2011, and he planned to roll out the heavy rocket in Southern California in late 2012. He hoped for a launch at some point in 2013 -- it was obviously delayed. The rockets were put in position in pad 39A and tested in December 2017.

Falcon Heavy rockets cost a fraction of the price of the future Space Launch System rockets, which are planned to have more lift and put a space craft further into space, to Jupiter and beyond. They will probably not be ready until the mid-2020s.

Each rocket has nine engines, making it 27 engines in total that need to ignite in tandem.

The two side rockets will jettison from the center rocket two and a half minutes after liftoff. The center booster will continue for a bit longer before engines are shut off.

All three rockets are planned to land back on Earth: two back at the Cape, and the heavier rocket at an Atlantic barge platform called “Of course, I still love you.”

There is a good chance that this launch may fail (but we certainly hope not!).

If successful, there will be more heavy launches during the first half of 2018 from Cape Canaveral.

Central Florida residents, especially those near the coast -- but as far away as metro Orlando -- may hear a sonic boom.

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Anthony Borges took bullets for classmates in Parkland school shooting

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 11:46 PM

People visit a makeshift memorial setup in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
People visit a makeshift memorial setup in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Anthony Borges is a hero, who put himself in the line of fire to protect his classmates when a gunman rampaged through their Parkland, Florida, school.

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Borges’ father and a friend who survived the massacre told ABC News that the 15-year-old Borges put the lives of others before his own.

“None of us knew what to do. So, he took the initiative to just save his other classmates,” Carlos Rodriguez, Borges’ best friend, told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

A soccer player at the school, Borges placed his body between the gunman and the students. Rodriguez said that he survived the shooting because of Borges’ brave actions.

When gunfire broke out at the school Wednesday, Rodriguez said that Borges and his classmates rushed to hide in a classroom. The gunman was firing randomly at students as he closed in on their position in the building.

>> Related: Florida gun owner surrenders assault rifle after Parkland high school massacre

Rodriguez said that Borges was the last of 20 students to enter the classroom to take cover and that, as he attempted to lock the door, he was shot. He held his ground, keeping his body between the gunman and the other students, all of whom survived without injury.

Borges took five bullets to the back and both legs but survived, his father, Royer Borges, told police.

He told “Good Morning America” that his son called him moments after the attack and described what had happened.

>> Related: NY state troopers fly friend of school massacre victim to Florida for funeral

“He just called me and says, ‘Dad, somebody shot me in the back and my leg, too,'” said Royer Borges, unable to hold back his tears.

The father said others who were inside the building with the gunman shared stories of his son’s courageous actions that might have saved the lives of other students. Royer Borges expressed pride in his son, saying, “He’s my hero.”

Anthony Borges is in stable condition after undergoing hours of surgery, his father said.

“I only ask that people pray for him,” Royer Borges said.

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President Donald Trump endorses Mitt Romney in Utah Senate race

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 11:24 PM

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
George Frey/Getty Images
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)(George Frey/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump has apparently endorsed one-time adversary and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney as Romney runs for Senate in Utah to replace Sen. Orrin Hatch, who is retiring.

Hatch, the longest-serving Republican in Congress, announced his retirement in January. That left room for Romney to take the front-runner’s spot in the race for Senate; Romney announced his candidacy for Utah’s Senate seat on Friday February 16, choosing to delay his announcement for 24 hours “out of respect for the shooting victims and their families in Parkland, Florida.”

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Romney’s announcement video promised to bring “Utah values” to Washington D.C., boasting that “on Utah’s capitol hill, people treat one another with respect.” Those close to Romney say as senator he is less interested in direct combat with President Donald Trump than he once was and more interested in promoting Utah — though the man grew up in Michigan and has deepest political ties to Massachusetts.

In a tweet of thanks to Trump, Romney swiftly pivoted to Utah voters.

The tweets — and support — makes odd bedfellows of Trump and Romney, who have a long record of openly criticizing each other.

President Donald Trump has blasted Romney for losing the 2012 election to then-President Barack Obama, saying he “had his chance to beat a failed president but he choked like a dog.” Trump has also called Romney “one of the dumbest and worst candidates in the history of Republican politics” and a “dope.”

In a 2016 speech, Romney hammered Trump for a litany of abuses, calling him a “phony” and a “fraud.” He also jumped on Trump for his comments in the wake of the weekend of bloody race-fueled violence in Charlottesville and his endorsement of Roy Moore in the Alabama special election.

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Family who took in Nikolas Cruz: 'We just didn't know'

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 1:25 PM

WATCH: Suspected Florida High School Shooter Nikolas Cruz Appears In Court

The family that took in suspected school shooter Nikolas Cruz after his adoptive mother died suddenly last year said that, although the 19-year-old was troubled, it was unaware of any red flags to hint beforehand that he planned to carry out last week’s deadly attack.

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Cruz opened fire Wednesday on students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in what police believe was a preplanned attack, authorities said last week. The shooting left 14 students and three teachers dead. More than a dozen other people were injured.

“We knew he had troubles and a couple of issues, but I’ve raised three boys, and I thought we could help,” James Snead told The New York Times on Sunday. “It’s a very selfish thing he did -- aside from the families he hurt, he hurt the family that tried to help him and give him a chance.”

>> Related: Florida school shooting: What we know about the victims

James Snead and his wife, Kimberly Snead, told the Times that they took in Cruz after their son, who knew Cruz from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, asked if he could move in with them. Cruz had been staying with a friend of his mother’s after she died Nov. 1 of pneumonia, according to the Times.

“We didn’t know he had such an evil past,” James Snead told the Times. “We just didn’t know.”

>> Related: FBI didn't investigate tip about Nikolas Cruz before deadly school shooting

School records obtained by WPLG showed Cruz had a lengthy disciplinary record beginning in 2012, when he was in middle school. He faced disciplinary action five times while attending Marjory Stoneman Douglas High from January 2016 to February 2017, WPLG reported.

School administrators in January 2017 recommended a threat assessment be done for Cruz after an alleged assault, according to WPLG. Details on that incident were not immediately available, although James Snead told the Times that Cruz had to leave school because of fighting.

>> Related: Classmate of Nikolas Cruz says ‘No one has ever been a friend to him’

The Sneads said Cruz was struggling with depression stemming from his mother’s death but that he appeared to be doing better, according to the Times. The couple had planned to have him see a counselor this week.

They said in an appearance on “Good Morning America” that they saw Cruz at the police station Wednesday when he was brought in after his arrest.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where he allegedly killed 17 people, is seen on a closed circuit television screen during a bond hearing in front of Broward Judge Kim Mollica at the Broward County Courthouse on February 15, 2018 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Mr. Cruz is possibly facing 17 counts of premeditated murder in the school shooting. (Photo by Susan Stocker - Pool/Getty Images)(Pool/Getty Images)

“I went after him,” Kimberly Snead said. “I wanted to strangle him more than anything.”

She said she yelled, “Really, Nik? Really?” Cruz mumbled something in response.

“He said he was sorry,” Kimberly Snead told “Good Morning America.” “I was furious. Heartbroken. Devastated. I still can’t process it, what he’s done. This wasn’t the person we knew. Not at all.”

>> Related: Florida school shooting: Teacher of the year's emotional Facebook post goes viral

James Snead said the family has gone through “a roller coaster of emotions” since learning of Cruz’s alleged role in Wednesday’s massacre.

"It's still tough. We're still hurting. We're still grieving," he said on “Good Morning America.” "Everything everybody seems to know, we didn't know.”

FBI officials said they investigated a comment made last year on YouTube by a user who was going by the name “Nikolas Cruz.”

“The comment simply said, ‘I’m going to be a professional school shooter,’” Rob Lasky, the FBI special agent in charge of the agency’s Miami division, said Thursday. Authorities were unable to verify the identity of the poster.

FBI officials also admitted last week that the agency failed to properly forward a tip about Cruz wanting to kill people to agents in Miami, prompting Gov. Rick Scott to call for the resignation of FBI Director Christopher Wray. The FBI is investigating the incident.

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Building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to be torn down

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 1:55 PM

Shooter Reportedly In Custody In Florida High School Shooting

Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School won’t return to the building where Nikolas Cruz is accused of shooting into classrooms, killing 17 people on Valentine’s Day, according to a reporter for CBS4 News in Miami. 

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The building, which is one of several on the campus, will be torn down and replaced with a memorial, assuming the school district receives funding from state lawmakers, reporter Jim DeFede said in a series of tweets Friday afternoon. 

Roughly 900 students attended class in the building, and the school is already at capacity, according to the report.

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