- - Saturday, October 11, 2008

NASA reiterates Mars-probe plans

LOS ANGELES — NASA said Friday it will press ahead with plans to launch a supersized rover to Mars next year despite spiraling costs and schedule pressures.

The decision to maintain the status quo - at least for now - came after the space agency’s top managers met to mull over the progress of the Mars Science Laboratory, a souped-up, nuclear-powered rover.

Concerns have been raised about how to pay for the project’s escalating costs and whether engineers can ready the rover in time for a safe launch next fall. NASA has poured $1.5 billion into the project but the final price tag is expected to be close to $2 billion.

Doug McCuistion, who heads the Mars exploration program at NASA headquarters, said significant work lies ahead and the space agency will revisit the mission’s progress in January. Meanwhile, “our intent is to keep our eye on the ball and keep pressing” for a 2009 liftoff, Mr. McCuistion told reporters in a conference call.

Simpson files bid for new hearing

LAS VEGAS — Lawyers for O.J. Simpson are citing judicial errors and insufficient evidence as they seek a new trial.

They filed documents Friday in Las Vegas with Judge Jackie Glass, who oversaw the trial at which the former football star was convicted of robbing two memorabilia dealers at gunpoint.

If she doesn’t grant a new trial, Simpson attorney Yale Galanter says he will appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Attorneys for co-defendant Clarence “C.J.” Stewart also plan to seek a new trial. They have argued that their client should have been tried separately from Simpson.

Simpson and Stewart were convicted this month and face up to life in prison when they are sentenced in December.

Army rejects trial in beating case

SAVANNAH, Ga. — An Army trainee will face nonjudicial punishment rather than criminal charges for beating a Jewish soldier so badly he was treated by a hospital, the military said Friday, in a move that keeps many details of the attack secret.

Fort Benning commanders decided not to seek a court-martial in the attack on Pvt. Michael Handman and will resolve it as a personnel matter rather than a crime.

Spokeswoman Monica Manganaro said Friday privacy restrictions prohibited the Army from releasing further information such as the soldier’s name and his specific punishment. She said investigators determined religious bigotry wasn’t the motive in the attack, but gave no more details.

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