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  1. #46
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    Published on Feb 17, 2013

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/20/ny...dson.html?_r=1&

    On Hudson, Bank?s Ferries Are Finally in Service

    By PATRICK McGEEHAN

    It is a mystery that has drifted around New York Harbor for two years: Why did one of the world?s biggest investment banks buy two custom-made ferry boats and leave them bobbing, unused, on the Hudson River?

    On Tuesday, the idleness ended when the boats ? named York and Jersey ? suddenly slipped into service as commuter ferries, carrying passengers, bank employees or not, between Lower Manhattan and Jersey City. The same passengers who paid $6 each way to ride a New York Waterway workhorse last week have traded up to smoother, quieter boats with plush seating, courtesy of the bank, Goldman Sachs.
    But the question of why it took Goldman so long to put its $5 million investment to use remained unanswered.

    A spokeswoman for the bank, Tiffany Galvin, said that the boats began scheduled service across the Hudson on Tuesday morning. But Ms. Galvin repeatedly declined to explain the long delay, saying only that the necessary ?requirements and checks? had taken longer than expected.

    Ms. Galvin said it would not be appropriate to divulge why the boats? use was blocked or if it had been blocked by a regulatory agency. The Coast Guard said that it had inspected and approved the boats for commuter use two years ago.
    The unusually long clearance was a result of the oddity of Goldman?s plan. It wanted to improve the experience of crossing the water that separates its headquarters in Battery Park City and its office tower on the riverfront in Jersey City. So it ordered a pair of boats, built in Washington State, with sofa-style seating, swivel chairs and bicycle racks.

    The 72-foot-long catamarans may have been built to Wall Street standards, but because they land at a public pier near the World Financial Center, Goldman could not exclude the public ? just as if Citigroup had bought a fancy bus and asked the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to run it from the bank?s headquarters on Park Avenue to its trading base in TriBeCa.

    In this case, the operator will be the BillyBey Ferry Company, which owns a fleet of boats that it hires New York Waterway to run as commuter ferries. Paul Goodman, the president of BillyBey, said there would be no change in the existing New York Waterway schedule or fares for the route. He acknowledged that he would have liked to have put the boats into service sooner but said he was sworn to keeping Goldman?s secret about the delay.

    Mr. Goodman said the boats would not fly New York Waterway flags, as the boats they replaced did; nor would they bear the ferry service?s name or logos. He gave no explanation and was reluctant even to describe the interiors of the cabins for fear of endangering his charter contract by upsetting Goldman executives.

    For its part, all Goldman would say through Ms. Galvin on Tuesday was: ?We?re pleased to have these environmentally friendly, efficient boats in service. We think they benefit Goldman Sachs employees and the downtown community.?

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    The Science of Sinkholes: What You Should Know - The Daily Beast

    John Sparkman is dwarfed as he looks into a sinkhole near Picher, Okla., Saturday, April 6, 2008. (Charlie Riedel/AP)
    Around 11 on Thursday night, Jeffrey Bush, 37, was tucked in his suburban Tampa bed when, without warning, his entire bedroom collapsed, swallowed up by a 30-foot-wide, 20-foot-deep sinkhole. His brother, Jeremy, rushed in and tried to help, but ended up being pulled out by police as the hole collapsed.


    ?All I could see was the top of his bed,? said Bush. ?So I jumped in the hole and tried digging him out. I thought I could hear him screaming for me and hollering for me, but they couldn?t do nothing.?

    Rescue teams lowered a microphone and video equipment into the hole but found no signs of life. As of Friday afternoon, Jeffrey is presumed dead.

    Subsidances aren?t rare in central Florida or around the world, but a sinkhole causing a human death definitely is. Read on for The Daily Beast?s guide to spotting potential sinkholes and understanding them.

    What causes sinkholes?


    Naturally occurring sinkholes, like the one that killed Jeremy Bush, are depressions in the earth caused by water erosion of the bedrock below a land surface. Acidic rainwater seeps through the ground, reaches soluble bedrock (usually salt, sandstone, or a carbonate rock such as limestone), dissolves small amounts, and carries the particles away. Over time (even thousands of years), this process can enlarge natural pores and cracks in the bedrock, to the point where large cavities or caves are formed. And with a gaping hole underground, there?s nothing to support the weight of layers of sediment above?that's when the ground collapses.


    As The Atlantic points out, long periods of drought followed by rain can also set off collapses. Droughts cause groundwater tables to drop, and caves that were once filled with water and were therefore supported by it become weaker. Once rain finally comes, the extra weight of the soaked-through top layer of earth can cause the cave to collapse. And beware of tapping into groundwater for agriculture too, as that can have the same effect as a drought.

    Non-naturally occurring sinkholes can form because of water main breaks, sewer collapses, or even abandoned mines. If there?s a substantial change in the weight of a land surface, such as when industrial or runoff-storage ponds are created, underground collapses may also be triggered.


    Where are they most likely to occur?

    Sinkholes are a worldwide phenomenon?geologists estimate that 10 percent of Earth?s surface (including the entirety of Florida) is shaped by dissolving bedrock prone to sinkholes, a type of landscape called karst topography. Nearly every U.S. state is covered at least in part by karst topography and sinkholes are considered most common in Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. Check out the U.S. Geological Survey?s map of the U.S.?s karst areas here.


    How big do these things get?

    Pretty massive, as it turns out. The Qattara Depression in Egypt extends to 440 feet below sea level, and a length of 186 miles (with a width of 95 miles). The 2007 and 2010 sinkholes in Guatemala City were 330 feet and 30 stories deep, respectively. And in Sarisarinama, Venezuela, multiple sinkholes have reached about 1,000 feet wide and 1,150 feet deep. Of course, sinkholes aren?t always gargantuan; they can also be quite small, no more than 2 or 3 feet in diameter and depth.


    Are sinkhole fatalities common?

    No, which is what makes the Florida case so bizarre. USA Today talked to Anthony Randazzo, a former University of Florida professor and contractor who has spent his career studying sinkholes. Randazzo recalled only two other people in 40 years who have died because of them?and even then, it was because both people had been drilling water wells. (Remember what we said above about tapping into groundwater?!) It?s worth noting that both these deaths also occurred in Florida.


    How can I tell if I?m living on a sinkhole and how can I fix it?

    Consider sagging trees or fence posts, doors or windows that won?t close properly, and rainwater collecting in unusual spots as warning signs. Get the hell outta there and, if it?s on public property, report it to local law enforcement. If it?s on your own property, a small hole can be filled with natural materials like rock and clayey sand. Larger sinkholes will require the help of experts. Professional geologists or a geotechnical engineering firm can help by injecting grout into the area to fill up cracks and strengthen the foundation.

  4. #49
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    Worker who set fire to sub sentenced to 17 years | US National Headlines | Comcast

    PORTLAND, Maine (AP) ? A shipyard worker who set fire to rags aboard a nuclear submarine because he wanted to go home was sentenced to a little more than 17 years in federal prison Friday for the blaze that transformed the vessel into a fiery furnace, injured seven people and caused about $450 million in damage.

    Casey James Fury also was ordered to pay $400 million in restitution by a judge who weighed his lack of criminal record and the severity of the fire before imposing a 205-month prison sentence.
    The 25-year-old Fury, formerly of Portsmouth, N.H., pleaded guilty to setting the May 23 fire while the USS Miami was undergoing a 20-month dry dock overhaul at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery.

    The civilian painter and sand blaster told authorities that he wanted to go home because he was suffering from an anxiety attack. He told them he never envisioned such extensive damage when he used a lighter to set fire to a bag of rags that he left burning on a bunk in a state room.

    The blaze quickly grew into an inferno spewing superheated smoke that billowed from hatches. It took 12 hours and the efforts of more than 100 firefighters to save the submarine. Seven people were hurt, the Navy has said.
    Eric Hardy, a shipyard firefighter who suffered back and shoulder injuries fighting the blaze, called it the worst fire he had ever seen.

    "The best way I could describe it, sir, is fighting a fire in a wood stove and climbing down the chimney," Hardy told the judge.

    Fury, who had been working in the torpedo room, fled to the safety of the pier, prosecutors said, and watched as firefighters went down hatches and into the burning Los Angeles class-attack submarine, staying inside for only minutes at a time because of smoke and blistering heat.

    Hardy said the smoke was so thick that he couldn't even see a foot in front of him and his flashlight was virtually useless. Firefighters had 20-minute air packs, but it was so hard to climb into the sub and move around inside that they were limited to two to three minutes of actual firefighting.

    About three weeks later, Fury set a second fire outside the crippled sub, again because of anxiety. That fire caused no damage. He pleaded guilty to two counts of arson in November.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Darcie McElwee said it was telling that Fury set a second fire after the extensive damage caused by the first one.
    But the defense lawyer David Beneman contended Fury suffered from depression and anxiety and that he never intended to harm anyone. Beneman described a "spin cycle" caused by Fury's failure to receive adequate treatment.

    Fury spoke briefly Friday, apologizing to the people who were hurt and saying he meant no disrespect to the Navy.
    "From the bottom of my heart, I'm truly sorry for what I have done," he said.

    U.S. District Judge George J. Singal weighed the extreme damage caused by the fire against Fury's lack of criminal record, which consisted of one drunken driving conviction, in finding a sentence in the middle of the 235 months sought by prosecutors and 188 months sought by the defense.

    "It is only by the grace of God that no one else was more seriously hurt or killed," the judge said.
    When he completes his prison sentence, Fury will have to serve five years of supervised release. The $400 million in restitution was mandated by federal statute, but prosecutors don't expect to collect anywhere near that sum.

    The May 23 fire damaged forward compartments including living quarters, a command and control center and the torpedo room. It did not reach the rear of the Groton, Conn.-based submarine, where the nuclear propulsion components are located.
    The Navy determined it was cost-effective to repair the vessel with a goal of returning it to service in the middle of 2015. But its future is now uncertain. Repairs have been postponed under mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration.

    Rear Adm. Richard Breckenridge, a submarine group commander, said the ship's extensive damage had ripple effects around the Navy, delaying maintenance on other vessels and leading to longer deployments for thousands of sailors.

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    Thieves steal entire bridge in western Turkey

    Thieves steal entire bridge in western Turkey

    In a most unusual incident thieves on Monday stole an entire bridge, apparently for its scrap metal, in the western province of Kocaeli.

    The 22-ton bridge, which was 25 meters long, was in a village in Kocaeli's G?l??k district and was regularly used by villagers to cross a creek to reach their orchards. The villagers were astonished to discover the disappearance of the bridge on Monday morning as they were making their way to the orchards and immediately alerted the police.

    Police arrived at the scene and determined that the bridge had been cut apart and loaded onto a truck by the thieves. They believe the bridge was stolen for scrap metal. Its worth was an estimated TL 20,000.

    Mustafa Karakaş, one of the villagers, told the İhlas news agency that he couldn't understand how a bridge could be stolen, saying it was unbelievable.

    ?Now we have to take our socks off and cross the creek,? Karakaş said.

    Police have launched an investigation to capture the perpetrators.

  6. #51
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    Forgotten US airship crash recalled 80 years later | General Headlines | Comcast

    Forgotten US airship crash recalled 80 years later

    LAKEHURST, N.J. (AP) ? History buffs will gather this week near the New Jersey coast to commemorate a major airship disaster.
    No, not that one.

    Newsreel footage and radio announcer Herbert Morrison's plaintive cry, "Oh, the humanity!" made the 1937 explosion of the Hindenburg at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station probably the best-known crash of an airship.
    But just four years earlier, a U.S. Navy airship seemingly jinxed from the start and later celebrated in song crashed only about 40 miles away, claiming more than twice as many lives.
    The USS Akron, a 785-foot dirigible, was in its third year of flight when a violent storm sent it plunging tail-first into the Atlantic Ocean shortly after midnight on April 4, 1933.

    "No broadcasters, no photographers, no big balls of fire, so who knew?" said Nick Rakoncza, a member of the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society. "Everybody thinks that the Hindenburg was the world's greatest (airship) disaster. It was not."
    A ceremony to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the crash, the deadliest airship disaster on record, is being held Thursday at a veterans park where there is a tiny plaque dedicated to the victims. Below it is a small piece of metal from the airship.

    Few in the area seemed to know about the disaster, let alone the memorial plaque; even a Navy officer sent on an underwater mission to explore the wreckage many years later had not heard of the Akron.
    "It's almost a forgotten accident," said Rick Zitarosa, historian for the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society. "The Akron deserves to be remembered."

    The Akron crashed off the community of Barnegat Light just a few hours after taking off from Lakehurst, killing 73 of the 76 men aboard, largely because the ship had no life vests and only one rubber raft, according to Navy records and the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society. They had been moved to another airship and were never replaced.

    Lt. Cmdr. Herbert Wiley, Moody Erwin and Richard Deal were pulled from the frigid waters by a German tanker that had been nearby.
    Erwin and Deal had been hanging on a fuel tank. Wiley was clinging to a board, according to an account he gave to a newspaper the next day.

    In a newsreel interview, Wiley, standing next to the other survivors, said he was in the control car just before the crash. He said crew members could not see the ocean until they were about 300 feet above the water.
    "The order was given to stand by for a crash," Wiley said. "The ship hit the water within 30 seconds of that order and most of us, I believe, we catapulted into the water."

    Among the casualties was Rear Adm. William Moffett, the first chief of the Bureau of Navy Aeronautics.
    When the wreckage was found, Zitarosa said, the airship had collapsed to about 25 feet in height. It had originally stood at about 150 feet.

    "It was a catastrophic disintegration of the ship once it hit the water," Zitarosa said.
    Part of the wreckage was lifted from the sea a few weeks after the accident.

    The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. in Akron, Ohio, had been awarded a Navy contract in 1928 to build the Akron and a second rigid airship, the Macon. Construction of the Akron by the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corp. was completed in 1931.
    It was plagued by problems from the start.

    It was involved in three accidents before its final flight, including one in which its tail slammed into the ground several times. Another accident killed two sailors.
    Some men who died in the Akron had survived the airship crash of the USS Shenandoah less than a year before.

    A day after the Akron disaster, a blimp sent out to look for bodies malfunctioned and crashed in Barnegat Light, killing two more crew members.

    A year later, Wiley was the commanding officer on the USS Macon when it was lost in a storm off of Port Sur, Calif., also killing two crew members. Wiley survived, but that was it for him and airships.
    In June 2002, the Navy ordered a mission to explore the wreckage of the Akron. The NR-1 explored several hundred feet of debris 120 feet deep.

    The officer of the NR-1 at the time, Dennis McKelvey, said that they could not see much of the wreckage through murky waters, but that some metal along the ocean floor resembled "ribs sticking out of the mud."
    Even McKelvey, now a retired Navy captain, had not heard of the Akron disaster before he was dispatched to view the site.

    "I had to go do my own research," McKelvey said. "I thought I would have learned about it at some point."

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    It makes me think that if I bring anything valuable to make sure it is in my carry-on.

    VIDEO: Airport Worker Caught Stealing $84K Worth of Items From Luggage! | Fox News Insider

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  10. #55
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    Published on Apr 12, 2013
    Here's the latest news for Friday, April 12: Mail bomb sent to Sheriff Arpaio, Kerry warns N. Korea on missile launch, $4 million jewelery heist in Conn., International cake show kicks off in London.

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    Lapeer Police stop 6-year-old driver heading for Chinese food | The Detroit News | detroitnews.com

    Lapeer Police stop 6-year-old driver heading for Chinese food

    Police in Lapeer responded to an unusual phone call Saturday morning from drivers on M-24 who reported a vehicle driving erratically.

    "They told police when they called that it looked like a 6-year-old was driving the car," said Sgt. Andy Engster of the Lapeer County Sheriff's Department. "And they were exactly right."
    By the time police arrived to pull over the six-year-old boy, two drivers of other vehicles had already boxed him into a turnaround, said Engster. One reached into the window and pulled the keys out of the ignition.

    The boy had taken the keys off the counter at home and told the responding officer that he had never driven before and nobody had taught him how.
    "He said he'd never even sat on his dad's lap to steer the car or anything," said Engster.

    When police asked the boy why he took the car, he told them he was going to get Chinese food. He had hit a "no left turn" sign on Park and Pine streets near his home and, seeing the damage to the car, decided he needed to head to the dealer to get it repaired.

    The incident occurred at 7:30 a.m. just south of the I-69 entrance ramp. Police called the boy's father who came to pick him up.

    "He said he was asleep and he didn't even know (his son) was gone," said Engster.
    The incident is under investigation and no one was injured.

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    Bangladesh building collapse death toll nears 350 | General Headlines | Comcast

    SAVAR, Bangladesh (AP) ? Police in Bangladesh took six people into custody in connection with the collapse of a shoddily-constructed building that killed at least 348 people, as rescue workers admitted Saturday that voices of survivors are getting weaker after four days of being pinned under the increasingly unstable rubble.
    Still, in a boost for the rescuers, 29 survivors were pulled out Saturday, said army spokesman Shahinul Islam.

    Most of the victims were crushed by massive blocks of concrete and mortar falling on them when the 8-story structure came down on Wednesday morning -- a time many of the garment factories in the building were packed with workers. It was the worst tragedy to hit Bangladesh's massive garment industry, and focused attention on the poor working conditions of the employees who toil for $38 a month to produce clothing for top international brands.

    Among those arrested Saturday were two owners of a garment factory, who a Dhaka court ruled can be questioned by police for 12 days without charges being filed. Also detained are two government engineers and the wife of the building owner, who is on the run, in an attempt to force him to surrender. Late Saturday, police arrested another factory owner. Violent public protests continued sporadically in Dhaka and spread to the southeastern city of Chittagong where several vehicles were set on fire.
    Working round-the-clock since Wednesday through heat and a thunderstorm, rescuers on Saturday finally reached the ground floor from the top of the mountainous rubble through 25 narrow holes they have drilled, said Brig. Gen. Ali Ahmed Khan, the head of the fire services.

    "We are still getting response from survivors though they are becoming weaker slowly," he said, adding that rescue workers were now able to see cars that were parked at the ground level.
    "The building is very vulnerable. Any time the floors could collapse. We are performing an impossible task, but we are glad that we are able to rescue so many survivors." He said the operations will continue overnight as chances fade of people surviving for a fifth day with possibly grievous injuries and the heat.

    The building site was a hive of frenzied activity all day with soldiers, police and medical workers in lab coats working non-stop. Rescuers passed bottles of water and small cylinders of oxygen up a ladder leaning against the side of the building to be given to possible survivors inside.
    They used bare hands and shovels, passing chunks of brick and concrete down a human chain away from the collapsed structure. On the ground, mixed in the debris were several pairs of pink cotton pants, a mud-covered navy blue sock and a pile of green uncut fabric.

    Nearby, Abul Basar wept as he awaited news of his wife, who worked in one of the garment factories. "My son says that his mother will come back some day. She must return! " he cried.
    Every once in a while a badly decomposed body would be brought out, covered in cloth and plastic, to a spot where ambulances were parked. Workers furiously sprayed air-fresheners on the bodies to cover the stench, leaving the air thick with the smell of death and cheap perfume.

    The bodies were kept at a makeshift morgue at the nearby Adharchandra High School before being handed over to families. Many people milled around at the school, waving photos of their missing loved ones.
    Junior local government minister Jahangir Kabir Nanak put the death toll at 348. Military spokesman Shahinul Islam said 2,429 survivors were accounted for, including 29 who were pulled out Saturday.

    Junior Home Minister Shamsul Haque Tuku said police had arrested Bazlus Samad, managing director of New Wave Apparels Ltd., and Mahmudur Rahman Tapash, the company chairman. He told reporters that police had also detained the wife of Mohammed Sohel Rana, the owner of the collapsed Rana Plaza building, for questioning. The top three floors of the eight-story building were illegally constructed. Military spokesman Shahinul Islam said officials arrested Aminul Islam, chairman of Phantom Apparels Ltd., late Saturday in Dhaka.

    Authorities are still searching for Rana, a local politician, who hasn't been seen publicly since the building collapsed. Negligence cases have been filed against him. Police in Bangladesh often detain relatives of missing suspects as a way to pressure them to surrender.
    Dhaka police superintendent Habibur Rahman said Rana was a local leader of ruling Awami League's youth front. His arrest, and that of the factory owners, was ordered by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is also the Awami League leader.

    Police said they detained for questioning two engineers working for the Savar municipality, Imtemam Hossain and Alam Ali. They did not say what role they played in approving the design of the building but it was clear that the arrests amounted to a widening crackdown. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.
    A garment manufacturers' group said the factories in the building employed 3,122 workers, but it was not clear how many were inside it when it collapsed.

    Police say they ordered an evacuation of the building on Tuesday after cracks in Rana Plaza were found, but the factories ignored the order and were operating when it collapsed the next day. Video before the collapse shows cracks in walls, with apparent attempts at repair. It also shows columns missing chunks of concrete and police talking to building operators.
    Officials said soon after the collapse that numerous construction regulations had been violated.

    The disaster is the worst ever for the country's booming and powerful garment industry, surpassing a fire five months ago that killed 112 people and brought widespread pledges to improve worker-safety standards. Since then, very little has changed in Bangladesh, where low wages have made it a magnet for numerous global brands.

    Bangladesh's garment industry was the third largest in the world in 2011, after China and Italy, having grown rapidly in the past decade. The country's minimum wage is the equivalent of about $38 a month.
    Among the garment makers in the building were Phantom Apparels, Phantom Tac, Ether Tex, New Wave Style and New Wave Bottoms. Altogether, they produced several million shirts, pants and other garments a year.
    The New Wave companies, according to their website, make clothing for several major North American and European retailers.

    Britain's Primark acknowledged it was using a factory in Rana Plaza, but many other retailers distanced themselves from the disaster, saying they were not involved with the factories at the time of the collapse or had not recently ordered garments from them.
    Wal-Mart said none of its clothing had been authorized to be made in the facility, but it is investigating whether there was any unauthorized production.

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    I haven't seen any footage of the flight so far.

    Virgin Galactic spaceship makes 1st powered flight | Science Headlines | Comcast

    MOJAVE, Calif. (AP) ? Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo made its first powered flight Monday, breaking the sound barrier in a test over the Mojave Desert that moves the company closer to its goal of flying paying passengers on brief hops into space.
    "It couldn't have gone more smoothly," said Sir Richard Branson, who owns the spaceline with Aabar Investments PJC of Abu Dhabi.

    A special twin-fuselage jet carrying SpaceShipTwo took off at about 7:00 a.m. PDT, spent 45 minutes climbing to an altitude of 48,000 feet and released the spaceship. Pilot Mark Stucky and co-pilot Mike Alsbury then triggered SpaceShipTwo's rocket engine.
    The engine burned for 16 seconds, propelling the spaceship to an altitude of 55,000 feet and a velocity of Mach 1.2, surpassing the speed of sound. SpaceShipTwo then glided to a safe landing at Mojave Air and Space Port in the desert north of Los Angeles, said George Whitesides, Virgin Galactic's CEO.

    The 10-minute test flight was considered a major step for the program.

    "Having spaceship and rocket perform together in the air is a long way toward getting into space," said Branson, who watched from the ground. "A few more test flights with slightly bigger burns every time, and then we'll all be back here to watch it go into space."
    Until Monday, SpaceShipTwo had only performed unpowered glide flights. Several powered flights are planned this summer, culminating with a dash into space targeted toward the end of the year.

    SpaceShipTwo is a prototype commercial version of SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 became the first privately developed manned rocket to reach space. Since the historic flight, more than 500 aspiring space tourists have paid $200,000 or plunked down deposits, patiently waiting for a chance to float in weightlessness and view the Earth's curvature from 62 miles up.

    Branson initially predicted commercial flights would begin in 2007, but a deadly explosion during ground testing and longer-than-expected test flights pushed the deadline back.
    No date has been set for the first commercial flight from a custom-designed spaceport in New Mexico, but Virgin Galactic executives have said it will come after testing is complete and it secures approval from the government. Branson previously said the maiden passenger flight will carry his family.

    SpaceShipTwo was built by Mojave-based aerospace research company Scaled Composites LLC, which was founded by cutting-edge aviation designer Burt Rutan. His SpaceShipOne, funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, made three suborbital flights into space ? reaching altitudes of 62 miles (100 kilometers) or greater? and won the $10 million Ansari X Prize.

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