The Falcon Heavy’s successful flight is another vindication for Elon Musk

IT WAS not the most powerful launch ever seen at the Kennedy Space Cemtre’s Pad 39A; almost half a century ago the Apollo programme’s mighty Saturn V’s made use of it. But if the Falcon Heavy that took off from 39A on February 6th could boast only half the thrust of those bygone giants, its successful maiden voyage still proved it the most powerful rocket in the world today, as well as the most technologically advanced.

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, the firm which built the Falcon Heavy, had been frank about the possibility that the launch might fail, possibly spectacularly. The prospect of fireworks helped to entice the biggest crowd of spectators at Cape Canaveral since the heyday of the Space Shuttle, and an audience of half a million to a live webcast.

After a delay caused by strong winds the assembled spectators witnessed a balletic display of technological prowess. Most rockets are one-use wonders, all their components falling into the sea or burning up in the atmosphere once their payloads are in…

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Source:: The Economits – Science and technology

Some of Nature’s strangest mammals are also some of the most threatened

PANGOLINS are a smuggler’s dream. For defence, and when asleep, they roll themselves up into spheres, scales on the outside, to thwart any predator. That makes them easy to handle and pack. And handled and packed they have been, in enormous numbers. The International Union for Conservation of Nature, a worldwide wildlife-preservation organisation, reckons that more than 1m pangolins were traded illegally from their African and Asian homelands over the decade to 2014. That may be a conservative estimate. A paper published last year in Conservation Letters calculates the number of pangolins hunted in central Africa alone as between 400,000 and 2.7m a year. Based on statistics such as these it seems likely that pangolins, of which there are eight species, four African and four Asian, are the most trafficked type of animal in the world.

Some are consumed locally. That is not necessarily illegal, for laws vary from place to place. International trade, though, is a different matter….

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Source:: The Economits – Science and technology