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SpaceX launches Falcon 9 with a Turkish satellite amid Armenian protests



SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket completed its first mission in 2021, sending the Turkish-owned Turksat 5A communications satellite into orbit, despite protests from Armenia to cancel the launch.

Hundreds of Armenian activists gathered around the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California, last October, hoping the company, owned by Elon Musk, would sever ties with Turkey.

Protesters held signs saying the satellite would be used to “kill civilians” by targeting Armenians with drones amid a deadly conflict between the two nations.

Their voices appear to have gone unheard when SpaceX launched the Falcon 9 with the satellite at its head on Thursday night.

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SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket completed its first mission in 2021, sending the Turksat 5A communications satellite, owned by Turkey, into orbit, despite discontent among Armenian activists to cancel the launch.  Their voices seem to have gone unheard when SpaceX launched the Falcon 9 with the satellite at its head on Thursday night.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket completed its first mission in 2021, sending the Turksat 5A communications satellite, owned by Turkey, into orbit, despite discontent among Armenian activists to cancel the launch. Their voices seem to have gone unheard when SpaceX launches a Falcon 9 satellite-headed on Thursday night.

The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan is for the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is controlled mainly by ethnic Armenians.

Fighting periodically erupts around the borders of Nagorno-Karabakh, often deadly, especially in 2016 and July 2020.

Since the outbreak of recent fighting in October, dozens have been killed and wounded in open shelling on both sides – and each country blames the other.

Armenian activists took to the streets to protest SpaceX’s ties to its enemy, and also sent company emails on “What if Elon was Armenian?”

Hundreds of Armenian activists gathered around the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, California in October, hoping the company, owned by Elon Musk, would sever ties with Turkey.

Hundreds of Armenian activists gathered around the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California in October, hoping the company, owned by Elon Musk, would sever ties with Turkey.

In an email from TechCrunch, activists explained that Armenians around the world, an ethnic and national group, had “suffered from the authoritarian rule and regional influence of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan” – and the word “genocide” was repeatedly mentioned in the statement.

TechCrunch exchanged emails with a person named as the author of the campaign, who said: “There are calls for sanctions against Turkey by the United States and other NATO countries.”

“SpaceX is urged to take all these factors into account and decide for itself whether it wants to continue to help Turkey in the face of such vast and clear evidence of criminal activity.”

“At least Elon Musk and SpaceX can stop the launch to see what these investigations are leading to. While this could be a loss of profit for SpaceX, it would be a huge leap forward for global progress. “

According to Space.com, SpaceX plans to send another Turskat satellite into space later this year.

The Turskat 5A satellite is currently in orbit, which Turkish owners say will improve communication capabilities in Turkey, along with parts of Asia, Europe and Africa.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 took off from Cape Canaveral at 9:15 p.m. ET on Thursday, after a 45-minute delay – the cause has not yet been revealed.

After the mission, the Falcon 9 booster fell back to the ground to land on the drone. Just read the instructions sitting in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX 9's Falcon flashes before taking off for its first mission in 2021

SpaceX 9’s Falcon flashes before taking off for its first mission in 2021

SpaceX's Falcon 9 took off from Cape Canaveral at 9:15 p.m. ET on Thursday, after a 45-minute delay - the cause has not yet been revealed

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 took off from Cape Canaveral at 9:15 p.m. ET on Thursday, after a 45-minute delay – the cause has not yet been revealed

SpaceX had a busy launch season in 2020 – it completed 29 successful missions – but 2021 will be twice as exciting for the company, which plans to launch its Falcon 9 rockets into orbit more than 40 times.

Musk’s company is also ready to release its latest prototype of Starship, serial number 9 (SN9), this weekend, according to airspace restrictions.

SN9 will try to do the same mission as its predecessor with serial number 8 (SN8), which performed a test flight at a high altitude of 7.8 miles on December 8.

The massive missile hit its target in flight, but exploded on the launch pad the moment it touched.

However, Musk considered the launch a success – saying that the prototype, although destroyed, has gathered a lot of data that will bring SpaceX one step closer to sending people to Mars aboard the rocket.

Why Armenia and Azerbaijan are fighting

WHAT AND WHERE IS NAGORNO-KARABAH?

Karabakh is a region within Azerbaijan that has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces since the end of the full separatist war in 1994, after some 30,000 people died and about 1 million were displaced.

Nagorno-Karabakh covers an area of ​​about 1,700 square miles, but Armenian forces occupy other nearby territory.

HOW DOES THE CONFLICT START?

Long-standing tensions between Christian Armenians and predominantly Muslim Azerbaijanis began to boil as the Soviet Union disintegrated in recent years. After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and the republics became independent nations, war broke out.

The ceasefire in 1994 left Armenian and Azerbaijani forces facing each other through a demilitarized zone where clashes were often reported.

WHAT HAPPENS FROM TENDERS?

Efforts for international mediation have made little visible progress. The conflict was an economic blow to the Caucasus region because it hampered trade and forced Turkey to close its border with Armenia.

Fighting periodically erupts around the borders of Nagorno-Karabakh, often deadly, especially in 2016 and this July. Since new fighting broke out on Sunday, dozens have been killed and wounded in apparent shelling from both sides. Each state blamed the other.

WHAT IS THE WIDER IMPACT?

In addition to causing local casualties and damage, the conflict in the small, hard-to-reach region is also worrying for large regional players.

Russia is Armenia’s main economic partner and has a military base there, while Turkey offers support to Azerbaijanis, Muslim colleagues and ethnic brothers of Turks. Iran is neighboring both Armenia and Azerbaijan and is calling for calm.

Meanwhile, the United States, France and Russia are destined to be guarantors of the long-stalled peace process under the auspices of the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.


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