SpaceX Falcon Heavy Launch: What you need to know

Published: Tuesday, February 06, 2018 @ 10:59 AM
Updated: Tuesday, February 06, 2018 @ 3:42 PM

Florida’s Space Coast is owning up to its nickname as research and launch activity ramps up. 

Feb. 6 was a historic day with the launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket.

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The rocket successfully blasted off at 3:45 p.m., rescheduled from 2:20 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. due to winds. The boosters successfully landed simultaneously after the rocket launch.

It launched from 39A, the same pad used for the Apollo missions. SpaceX’s pad was damaged in September 2016 when a rocket exploded. 

The Falcon Heavy rocket was a test launch, costing around $90 million. The 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 at about 118 metric tons, used in the Apollo program in the 1960s and the Skylab space station in the 1970s. The most recent version of a single Falcon 9 rocket can lift 13.2 tons. 

“If this is successful, this is once again SpaceX disrupting the marketplace and that's a good thing,” Dale Ketcham with Space Florida said before the launch. 

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has played down expectations for the launch publicly, saying this is a brand new vehicle with 27 engines having to work in sync. 

Large crowds were expected for the launch.

“We expect upwards of 100,000 people will come to the community just to see the launch, and that's on top of the people that are already here, including our seasonal guests, so it's going to be a huge crowd,” Eric Garvey of the Space Coast Office of Tourism said before the Tuesday launch.

Here are the main things to know about the Falcon Heavy liftoff: 

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

  • It is a test flight.

  • The middle booster will carry Elon Musk’s own Red Tesla Roadster.

  • The Roadster is planned be near Mars’ orbit in a precision 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 planned 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 throw a spacecraft 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 the Atlantic (barge) platform called “Of course, I still love you.”

  • There is a good chance that this launch may fail.

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

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

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

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LeBron James on Parkland shooting: 'How is it possible that we can have minors buy a gun?'

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 3:57 PM

WATCH: Florida High School Shooting Survivor Talks About NRA

When asked about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in which 17 people were killed, former Miami Heat star LeBron James had one question:

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“How is it possible that we can have minors go buy a gun?”

Nikolas Cruz, accused of the killings, is actually 19 and legally bought the AR-15 semiautomatic weapon that was used during the Feb. 14 incident. Still, James, the Cavaliers’ superstar, and other players with ties to South Florida could not make sense of the tragedy.

The players were asked about the shooting during Saturday’s media day for the NBA All-Star Weekend.

LeBron James stayed loose as he warmed up for the NBA All-Star Game.(Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

“We have a kid who wasn’t legally unable (sic) to buy a beer at a bar, but he can go buy an AR-15?” James said “It doesn’t make sense. I’m not saying it should be legal for him to go buy beer. But how is it possible that we can have minors go buy a gun?”

Heat guard Wayne Ellington, who was fourth in Saturday’s 3-point contest, said the nation has to “come together” to makes changes so these mass shootings do not continue to occur. The shooting was the ninth deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, five of those coming in the last six years.

WATCH: Florida school shooting survivor slams politicians, NRA in emotional speech

“I was at a loss for words,” Ellington said. “I couldn’t understand what’s going on, why (this) is going on in the world. Do we need to change? These young people doing unexplainable things, hurting each other and hurting innocent people it’s so unfortunate and sad, it’s something I don’t know how we can change but it’s something we need to come together and figure out.”

John Collins, the Atlanta Hawks rookie from Palm Beach County, was calling home to try to understand what was happening.

“It was a real shock to me,” said Collins, who played in Friday’s Rising Stars Challenge. “Obviously, I never expected something like that to happen. I know a couple of people that were affected by that tragedy. You got to say your prayers and sending your condolences and thoughts to the victims.”

What are the worst school shootings in modern US history?

James, though, was the most outspoken in calling for gun control.

“We’ve seen these schools and these tragedies happen in America and there’s been no change to gun control,” James said. “I don’t have the answer to this. But we have to do something about it. We’re all sending our kids to school, right? We drop them off at 8 o’clock. At 3:15 they’re going to be ready to get picked up. Either we’re picking them or someone in our family is picking them up or they have to take a bus or there’s aftercare and they stay until 5. If they have study hall they stay until 5:30 or whatever. But we all feel like our kids are going to return, right?

“To the families in Parkland, down in Broward County, it’s sad and I’m sorry and it’s just a tragedy and I hope we don’t continue to see this because it’s too many in the last 10 years with guns.”

James, meanwhile, has been embroiled in a social media debate with Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham, who said that athletes like James should "keep the political commentary to yourself.”

“Or as someone once said, 'Shut up and dribble,’” Ingraham said.

Ingraham was referencing an interview that James and Kevin Durant taped in January with ESPN’s Cari Champion for a show called “Uninterrupted.” The two NBA stars spoke about the political climate in the United States and had harsh criticism for President Donald Trump, ESPN reported.

Durant, in an interview with USA Today on Friday, said Ingraham's comments were "racist." 

“That was definitely an ignorant comment (by Ingraham). I do play basketball, but I am a civilian and I am a citizen of the United States, so my voice is just as loud as hers, I think -- or even louder.”

James, on his Instagram account, posted a photo of a neon sign that read “I am more than an athlete.”

#wewillnotshutupanddribble

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

Ingraham released a statement Saturday defending her comments, ESPN reported.

"In 2003, I wrote a New York Times bestseller called 'Shut Up & Sing,' in which I criticized celebrities like the Dixie Chicks and Barbra Streisand, who were trashing then-President George W. Bush. I have used a variation of that title for more than 15 years to respond to performers who sound off on politics,” Ingraham wrote. “If pro athletes and entertainers want to freelance as political pundits, then they should not be surprised when they're called out for insulting politicians. There was no racial intent in my remarks -- false, defamatory charges of racism are a transparent attempt to immunize entertainment and sports elites from scrutiny and criticism."

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John Kasich rips Congress, urges 'common-sense gun laws'

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 1:56 PM

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is urging common-sense gun laws.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Ohio Gov. John Kasich is urging common-sense gun laws.(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who signed laws making it legal to carry concealed weapons at daycare facilities and college campuses, said he has “no confidence” Congress will approve what he called “common-sense gun laws” in the wake of a mass shooting last week at a Florida high school.

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During an interview Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Kasich, who earned the endorsement of the National Rifle Association during his 2014 re-election campaign, indicated he would support “reasonable things,” such as full background checks for people buying guns and banning what are known as bump stocks, which allow a semi-automatic weapon to fire like an automatic weapon.

“You’re never going to fix all of this,” Kasich said. “But common-sense gun laws make sense.”

In a major reversal, Kasich suggested he might support a ban on an the sale of AR-15 semiautomatic weapons like the one used in the Florida attack. Kasich said, “If all of a sudden you couldn’t buy an AR-15, what would you lose? Would you feel as though your Second Amendment rights would be eroded because you couldn’t buy a God-darned AR-15?”

“These are the things that have to be looked at and action has to happen,” Kasich said.

In 1994 as a member of Congress, Kasich voted to ban the production and sale of 19 semi-automatic assault weapons. But when he ran for president in 2016, Kasich called the ban “superfluous and we don’t need laws that are superfluous. It didn’t have any impact.”

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

The ban on the sale of semiautomatic weapons expired in 2004 when Congress failed to renew it.

Kasich said he has formed a committee “on both sides of the issue” in Ohio to “look at everything” about improving gun safety. Neither Kasich nor his aides have said who is on the committee, but he said he was “hopeful” they would produce recommendations.

“If they don’t produce anything, I’ll put my own stuff out,” Kasich said.

David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said he was “glad” Kasich is on national TV and “speaking out” on guns.

“Hopefully he’s got some ability to work with the statehouse to find solutions and roll back some of the worst pieces of legislation they pushed through in the last seven years,” Pepper said.

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Third-graders in Missouri selling raffle tickets for AR-15 weapon

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 2:52 PM

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Selling raffle tickets to benefit an athletic team is not new, but having an AR-15 semiautomatic weapon as the prize is drawing heavy criticism in the wake of the shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 and injured dozens, The Kansas City Star reported.

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Third-graders in the southern Missouri city of Neosho were selling the tickets to benefit their traveling baseball team. Levi Patterson, the coach of a 9-and-under team in Neosho, said the idea was conceived before the Feb. 14 shooting at Parkland High School in South Florida, the Star reported.

The father of one of the players offered the weapon for the raffle. 

Patterson told the Star that he considered changing the prize after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, but decided to “turn it into a positive thing.”

The post, which has since been removed by Facebook, showed a weapon next to the mascot logo of South Elementary School in Neosho. 

The raffle is not affiliated with the Neosho School District, and the winner must pass a background check before receiving the gun, the Star reported.

“Are you all tone deaf?” Dan Weaver wrote in a Facebook post on Patterson’s page. “AR15 kills seventeen so you raffle a gun for child sports? Lord, people wake the hell up. Justify all you want but you are wrong, period.”

Patterson answered the post, noting that “gun raffles have been going on for years. Evil has and will always exist. Our hearts break for those involved, and we do not take that lightly.”

The Star originally linked to the exchange, but the link is no longer active.

Patterson told the Star that he understands the criticism, which has been fierce.

>> Florida school shooting: How difficult is it to purchase a gun in Florida?

“I applaud them for standing up for what they believe in. I just think they have feelings to this specific type of gun (that are) different than people around here do,” he said.

Tyler Tannahill of Kansas, who is running for Congress, was criticize this week for offering an AR-15 giveaway as part of his campaign, the Star reported.

Patterson stressed that the baseball players, who range in age from 7 to 9, are under no obligation to sell the raffle tickets.

“We appreciate your ‘concern’ but please understand, we are not, have not, and will not force one of our boys to sell raffle tickets for the Black Rain AR15 Spec 15, if they are uncomfortable doing so,” he wrote on Facebook.

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WATCH: Florida school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez slams politicians, NRA in emotional speech

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 3:43 AM
Updated: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 3:43 AM

WATCH: Florida High School Shooting Survivor Talks About NRA

A survivor of Wednesday's deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, slammed President Donald Trump, lawmakers and the National Rifle Association in a scathing speech Saturday at an anti-gun rally in Fort Lauderdale.

>> Click here to watch

>> PHOTOS: Remembering Parkland Florida school shooting victims

"Every single person up here today, all these people should be home grieving," said Emma Gonzalez, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. "But instead, we are up here standing together because if all our government and president can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it's time for victims to be the change that we need to see. Since the time of the founding fathers and since they added the Second Amendment to the Constitution, our guns have developed at a rate that leaves me dizzy. The guns have changed, but our laws have not."

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Gonzalez called out one of Trump's tweets following the shooting that left 17 people dead.

>> See the tweet here

"So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!" Trump wrote Thursday morning.

>> Florida school shooting: How difficult is it to purchase a gun in Florida?

Gonzalez said Saturday: "We did, time and time again. Since he was in middle school, it was no surprise to anyone who knew him to hear that he was the shooter. Those talking about how we should have not ostracized him, you didn't know this kid, OK? We did. We know that they are claiming mental health issues, and I am not a psychologist, but we need to pay attention to the fact that this was not just a mental health issue. He would not have harmed that many students with a knife."

>> Who is Nikolas Cruz, accused gunman in Florida high school attack?

She added: "If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I'm going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association."

>> Florida high school shooting suspect flagged as threat before tragedy

She went on to criticize him and other lawmakers.

"To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you!" she said, prompting the crowd to chant, "Shame on you" in response.

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"Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call BS,” Gonzalez said. “They say tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don't know what we're talking about, that we're too young to understand how the government works. We call BS."

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