- - Sunday, August 19, 2012

PASADENA — NASA’s Curiosity rover has zapped its first Martian rock, aiming its laser for the sake of science.
During the target practice Sunday, Curiosity fired 30 pulses at a nearby rock over a 10-second window, burning a small hole.

Since landing in Gale Crater two weeks ago, the six-wheel rover has been checking out its instruments, including the laser. During its two-year mission, Curiosity was expected to point the laser at various rocks as it drives toward Mount Sharp, a 3-mile-high mountain rising from the crater floor. Its goal is to determine whether the Martian environment was habitable.

In several days, flight controllers will command Curiosity to move its wheels side to side and take its first short drive.

Equatorial ship-borne launch
 rockets satellite into orbit

LONG BEACH — A rocket carrying an Intelsat satellite has successfully lifted off from the oceangoing Sea Launch platform on the equator.

A Sunday statement from Sea Launch AG said the rocket took off from the Pacific Ocean platform Odyssey at 11:55 p.m. PDT Saturday.

Thirty minutes after the launch, the 13,188-pound satellite named Intelsat 21, built by Boeing Satellite Systems, was in geosynchronous orbit, to North America, South America and Europe.

The Odyssey platform and the control ship sail from their home port in Long Beach, Calif., to take advantage of physics that allow a rocket to more easily carry a payload to orbit from the equator.


Two die as small plane 
crashes into town street

NEW YORK — A small plane carrying three people plummeted into a residential Long Island street with a fiery crash Sunday, killing two of those aboard as neighbors tried to douse the flames with fire extinguishers and garden hoses, authorities and witnesses said.

The single-engine, propeller-driven Socata TB10 — a model known as the “Tobago” — went down around noon in Shirley, shortly after taking off from nearby Brookhaven Calabro Airport.

The front of the plane landed on a tree-lined street flanked with homes — ending up about 100 feet from the nearest house and several hundred from half a dozen others — and its tail plunged into a nearby construction trash bin, said Jeff Litwin, who lives on the street a few hundred feet from the crash on Helene Avenue.

A neighbor “was trying to put out the fire with a garden hose, but it was too hot and he couldn’t get to a person trapped inside,” Mr. Litwin said by phone.

Police say 60-year-old Jane Unhjem, of Goshen, N.Y., died several hours after being hospitalized with burns. Her husband, 61-year-old Erik Unhjem, was listed in serious condition at Stony Brook University Medical Center.

Authorities have not yet released the name of a man who died at the scene.


9-year-old boy killed 
in lightning strike at lake

DULUTH — Minnesota authorities have identified a 9-year-old Wisconsin boy who was fatally injured by a lightning strike on a Lake Superior beach.

The St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office says Luke Voigt of Iron River, Wis., was flown to a Duluth hospital after the lightning strike Saturday, but was pronounced dead after efforts to revive him failed.

The sheriff’s office also says his 7-year-old brother, Daniel Voigt, was on shore during the lightning strike and was not injured.

The boys were among eight family members and friends who were on a sailboat that took refuge from a rapidly approaching thunderstorm on the end of Minnesota Point, near the Superior Entry to the Duluth-Superior harbor.

Four others in the group were taken to Duluth hospitals with what authorities described as severe but not life-threatening injuries.


Veterans golf tournament set to aid
 Marine discharged in Haditha killings

MERIDEN — A Marine convicted in the 2005 killings of unarmed Iraqis has returned home to Connecticut for a golf tournament organized by veterans for his benefit.

Former Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich tells the Record-Journal of Meriden that people are wrong to think prosecutors let a child-killer go free.

In February, he received a general discharge under honorable conditions — one step below an honorable discharge. Mr. Wuterich, who lives in California, was the only Marine convicted in the killings in Haditha, pleading guilty to negligent dereliction of duty as the leader of the squad that killed 24 Iraqis.

He apologized for the loss of life but said his squad did not behave dishonorably. Some local veterans say the military gave him a bad deal.

Online furor forces town to settle
 dispute over 7-year-old’s pet bunny

NORTH HAVEN — Officials have settled a zoning dispute over a local girl’s 20-pound pet bunny after receiving calls and emails from across the country demanding that the rabbit be allowed to stay.

North Haven First Selectman Michael Freda said Friday that the town will allow 7-year-old Kayden Lidsky and her family to keep the Flemish giant named Sandy and change the zoning rule that led to a cease-and-desist order three weeks ago. The rule bars anyone from keeping rabbits and other livestock on properties smaller than 2 acres.

The town’s zoning enforcement officer issued the cease-and-desist order while investigating a neighbor’s blight complaint against the Lidsky family, whose property is less than 2 acres.

“All along I’ve said that little girl is not losing that rabbit,” Mr. Freda said. “We have a ridiculous ordinance … and we’re going to change it.”

The Lidsky family, however, interpreted the cease-and-desist order to mean that they had to get rid of Sandy.

Josh Lidsky, Kayden’s dad, had planned to appeal the order to a town board.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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