SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket completed its first mission of 2021 by sending the Turkish-owned Turksat 5A communication satellite into orbit – despite outcry from Armenia to cancel the launch.
Hundreds of Armenia activists gathered around the firm’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California last October, with the hopes the Elon Musk-owned company would sever ties with Turkey.
Protesters held signs alleging the satellite would be used to ‘kill civilians’ by targeting Armenians with unmanned aerial vehicles amid the deadly conflict between the two nations.
It seems their voices went unheard, as SpaceX launched the Falcon 9 with the satellite at its helm Thursday evening.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket completed its first mission of 2021 by sending theTurkish-owned Turksat 5A communication satellite into orbit – despite outcry from Armenian activists to cancel the launch. It seems their voices went unheard, as SpaceX launched the Falcon 9 with the satellite at its helm Thursday evening
The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan is over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is mostly controlled by ethnic Armenians.
Fighting periodically breaks out around Nagorno-Karabakh’s borders, often deadly, notably in 2016 and July 2020.
Since recent fighting erupted in October, dozens have been killed and wounded in apparent shelling by both sides – and each country blames the other.
Armenian activists took to the streets to protest SpaceX’s ties with their enemy and also sent the firm emails with the subject ‘What if Elon was Armenian.’
Hundreds of Armenia activists gathered around the firm’s headquarter in Hawthorne, California in October, with the hopes the Elon Musk-owned company would sever ties with Turkey
In the email, obtained by TechCrunch, activists explained Armenians worldwide, an ethnic and national group, ‘has suffered under the authoritarian rule and regional influence of Turkey’s President, Tayyip Erdogan’ – and the word ‘genocide’ was shown numerous times in the message.
TechCrunch exchanged emails with a person listed as the campaign’s originator who said: ‘There are calls for sanctions of Turkey by the US and other NATO countries.’
‘SpaceX is strongly urged to take all these factors into consideration and decide for itself whether or not it wants to continue to aid Turkey in the face of such overwhelming and clear evidence of criminal actions.’
‘At the very least, Elon Musk and SpaceX can halt the launch to see what these investigations lead to. While this may be a loss of profit for SpaceX it would be a huge leap for world progress.’
According to Space.com, SpaceX is planning on sending another Turskat satellite into space later this year.
The Turskat 5A satellite is currently floating in orbit that, according to its Turkish owners, will enhance communication abilities in Turkey, along with parts of Asia, Europe and Africa.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 took off from Cape Canaveral at 9:15pm ET Thursday, following a 45-minute delay – the cause has not yet been revealed.
Following the mission, the Falcon 9 booster fell back to earth to land on the droneship Just Read The Instructions sitting in the Atlantic Ocean.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 moments before it took off for its first mission of 2021
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 took off from Cape Canaveral at 9:15pm ET Thursday, following a 45-minute delay – the cause has not yet been revealed
SpaceX had a busy launch season in 2020 – it clocked in 29 successful missions – but 2021 is set to be twice as exciting for the firm that plans to send its Falcon 9 rockets into orbit more than 40 times.
Musk’s firm is also poised to launch its latest Starship prototype, Serial Number 9 (SN9), as soon as this weekend, according to airspace restrictions.
SN9 would attempt the same mission as its predecessor Serial Number 8 (SN8) that completed a high-altitude test flight of 7.8 miles on December 8.
The massive rocket hit its flight goal, but exploded on the launch pad the moment it touched down.
However, Musk deemed the launch a success — saying that the prototype, even though it was destroyed, collected a trove of data that will bring SpaceX one step closer to sending humans to Mars aboard the rocket.
Why Armenia and Azerbaijan are fighting
WHAT AND WHERE IS NAGORNO-KARABAKH?
Karabakh is a region within Azerbaijan which has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces since a full-scale separatist war ended in 1994, after killing about 30,000 people and displacing an estimated one million.
Nagorno-Karabakh is about 1,700 square miles in size, but Armenian forces also occupy other nearby territory.
HOW DID THE CONFLICT START?
Long-simmering tensions between Christian Armenians and mostly Muslim Azerbaijanis began boiling over as the Soviet Union frayed in its final years. Once the USSR collapsed in 1991 and the republics became independent nations, war broke out.
A 1994 cease-fire left Armenian and Azerbaijani forces facing each other across a demilitarised zone, where clashes were frequently reported.
WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE?
International mediation efforts have brought little visible progress. The conflict has been an economic blow to the Caucasus region because it has hampered trade and prompted Turkey to close its border with Armenia.
Fighting periodically breaks out around Nagorno-Karabakh’s borders, often deadly, notably in 2016 and this July. Since new fighting erupted on Sunday, dozens have been killed and wounded in apparent shelling by both sides. Each country blamed the other.
WHAT´S THE BROADER IMPACT?
In addition to causing local casualties and damage, the conflict in the small, hard-to-reach region is also of concern to major regional players.
Russia is Armenia´s main economic partner and has a military base there, while Turkey has offered support to Azerbaijanis, fellow Muslims and ethnic brethren to Turks. Iran neighbors both Armenia and Azerbaijan and is calling for calm.
Meanwhile, the United States, France and Russia are meant to be guarantors of the long-stalled peace process, under the auspices of the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.