- - Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Flying observatory makes 1st science flight

PALMDALE — A U.S.-German infrared observatory mounted in a jumbo jet has flown its inaugural science flight, a mission to better understand how stars form.

The highly modified Boeing 747SP jetliner completed the flight Wednesday morning, returning to its base at Palmdale in the Mojave Desert after 10 hours of cruising at high altitude.

The 100-inch-diameter telescope targeted the star-making factory Orion nebula and a young forming star cluster 3,000 light-years from Earth.

It’s the first of three science flights planned before Christmas and marks the start of a 20-year observing campaign.

The joint NASA and German Aerospace Center project is called the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy.


Union leader ousted in election

D.C. teachers have voted out of office the union president who negotiated a new contract that raised pay but weakened job protections.

Washington Teachers’ Union President George Parker lost in a runoff Tuesday to General Vice President Nathan Saunders, a critic of the new contract who has also pledged to work to overturn aspects of a new assessment system he has called unfair.

Mr. Parker, 60, said he fell victim to low turnout and anger over his support for some of the changes implemented by former chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, a reformer who left office after Mayor Adrian M. Fenty was defeated.

Mr. Parker said any union president pushing reform takes a risk, but to improve education, union presidents are going to have to get in front of reform.


10 indicted in port drug ring

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