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Test flight of Virgin Galactic spaceship ends in fatal crash in California

Wreckage from Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo is shown in this still image captured from KNBC video footage from Mojave CaliforniaBy Alex Dobuzinskis MOJAVE Calif. (Reuters) - A passenger spaceship being developed by Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic company crashed during a test flight on Friday near the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, killing one pilot and seriously injuring the other, officials said. The crash of the suborbital vehicle, undergoing its first powered test flight since January over the Mojave Desert, 95 miles (150 km) north of Los Angeles, came days after another private space company, Orbital Sciences Corp, lost a rocket in an explosion moments after liftoff in Virginia. ...


Posted on 31 October 2014 | 9:24 pm

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Crashes in Test Flight: 1 Dead, 1 Injured

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Crashes in Test Flight: 1 Dead, 1 InjuredVirgin Galactic's suborbital space plane SpaceShipTwo crashed today (Oct. 31) in California during a rocket-powered test flight that resulted in the death of one pilot and injuries to the other one. SpaceShipTwo "suffered a serious anomaly" just after its rocket motor ignited for the test flight, leading to the crash of the spacecraft and death of one pilot. The pilots were with the Mojave, California-based aerospace company Scaled Composites, which built and is testing SpaceShipTwo for Virgin Galactic. "Space is hard, and today was a tough day," Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said during a news conference today.


Posted on 31 October 2014 | 5:48 pm

New U.S. rockets include crew launch-escape systems

NASA handout photo of an aerial view of the Wallops Island launch facilities in Wallops Island, VirginiaBy Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla (Reuters) - Heeding a lesson from history, designers of a new generation of U.S. rockets will include escape systems to give crew members a fighting chance of surviving launch accidents such as the one that felled an unmanned Orbital Sciences Antares rocket on Tuesday. The U.S. space agency NASA bypassed escape systems for the now-retired space shuttle fleet, believing the spaceships to be far safer than they turned out to be. The illusion was shattered on Jan. ...


Posted on 31 October 2014 | 4:23 pm

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Spacecraft Crashes During Test Flight

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Spacecraft Crashes During Test FlightVirgin Galactic's suborbital space plane SpaceShipTwo suffered a serious malfunction during a rocket-powered test flight over Mojave, California, today (Oct. 31) resulting in the loss of the spacecraft. The SpaceShipTwo passenger spacecraft experienced an unspecified anomaly after igniting its rocket motor shortly after the vehicle separated from its carrier plane WhiteKnightTwo. "Virgin Galactic's partner Scaled Composites conducted a powered test flight of SpaceShipTwo earlier today," Virgin Galactic officials said in a statement on Twitter today.


Posted on 31 October 2014 | 4:10 pm

U.S. rocket explosion investigation suspects main engine failure

An unmanned Antares rocket is seen exploding seconds after lift off from a commercial launch pad in this still image from NASA video at Wallops IslandBy Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. (Reuters) - As Orbital Sciences picks up the pieces, literally and figuratively, after its high-profile rocket launch explosion, accident investigators are looking closely at a potential first-stage engine problem. Technical data relayed from Orbital’s Antares rocket before and after Tuesday’s liftoff from Wallops Island, Virginia, show everything was fine until the rocket’s ascent stopped 15 seconds into the flight, the company said in a status report issued late Thursday. ...


Posted on 31 October 2014 | 2:26 pm

Rare Look Inside Tiny Mouth Wins 'Small World' Photo Contest

Rare Look Inside Tiny Mouth Wins 'Small World' Photo ContestIn a photo contest that honors all things small, it's tough to beat a shot of a rotifer: A view into the mouth of one of the tiniest animals on the planet won the top prize in this year's Nikon Small World competition. Rotifers rank among tardigrades as the smallest creatures in the animal kingdom. The winning photo, captured by Rogelio Moreno, a programmer and self-taught microscopist from Panama, shows the open mouth of a rotifer surrounded by a heart-shaped corona, or a crown of cilia that sweep water into its maw. Moreno watched the rotifer for hours, waiting for the right opportunity to snap a shot of the constantly moving creature at the moment it opened its mouth, according to Nikon.


Posted on 31 October 2014 | 2:05 pm

Brraaiins! How Zombies Overran Pop Culture

Brraaiins! How Zombies Overran Pop CultureUnlike Dracula or Frankenstein, these Halloween monsters aren't based on a literary resource. In fact, the modern conception of a zombie dates back to 1968, in a movie that doesn't so much as use the word: George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead." "He didn't call them zombies, and he didn't think about them as zombies," said Ozzy Inguanzo, a screenwriter and author of "Zombies on Film: The Definitive Story of Undead Cinema" (Rizzoli, 2014). Since then, the walking undead have wormed their way into video games, comic books — and even the classics (witness 2009's novel "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies).


Posted on 31 October 2014 | 1:19 pm

Great Pumpkin! 9 Fun Facts About the Halloween Gourd

Autumn is a time for leaf peeping, jack-o'-lanterns and pumpkin pie. The bright orange globes are the quintessential symbols of the season, and spooky jack-o'-lanterns have become a staple of Halloween celebrations everywhere. Pumpkins are perhaps the oldest domesticated plants on Earth, with archaeological and botanical evidence suggesting that people cultivated pumpkins as far back as 10,000 B.C., said Cindy Ott, an American studies professor at Saint Louis University in Missouri, and the author of "Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon," (University of Washington Press, 2012).

Posted on 31 October 2014 | 12:08 pm

Racist Costumes to Egging Hazards: The Science of Halloween

Racist Costumes to Egging Hazards: The Science of HalloweenHalloween isn't just an occasion to put on zombie makeup and binge-eat candy. From an analysis of racist costumes to an assessment of the hazards of egg throwing, here are a few strange chapters from the annals of Halloween science. They made her watch clips from "The Ring," "The Shining," "The Silence of the Lambs" and other horror movies.


Posted on 31 October 2014 | 8:14 am

Boeing exec says NASA crash underscores need for new U.S. engine

By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The crash of an unmanned Orbital Sciences Antares rocket is a "wake-up call" to the U.S. space community about the need to develop a new U.S. rocket engine, the head of Boeing Co's defense division said on Thursday. Chris Chadwick, chief executive of Boeing Defense, Space and Security, said the failure of the rocket on Tuesday was a "sad and tragic" reminder that the space business was complex and difficult, but he did not expect a lasting setback to the overall industry. The incident underscored growing concerns about U.S. ...

Posted on 30 October 2014 | 11:26 pm