American Scene: Dragon capsule back on Earth after trip to space station

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CAPE CANAVERAL — An unmanned space capsule carrying medical samples from the International Space Station splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on Sunday, completing the first official private interstellar shipment under a $1 billion contract with NASA.

The California-based SpaceX company gently guided the Dragon into the water via parachutes at 12:22 p.m., a few hundred miles off the Baja California coast.

Astronauts aboard the space station used a giant robot arm to release the commercial cargo ship 255 miles up. SpaceX provided updates of the journey home via Twitter, including a video of the Dragon separating from the space station.

The supply ship brought back nearly 2,000 pounds of science experiments and old station equipment. Perhaps the most eagerly awaited cargo are nearly 500 frozen samples of blood and urine collected by station astronauts in the past year.

HAWAII

Tsunami advisory canceled; Hawaii beaches reopened

HONOLULU — Officials in Hawaii canceled a tsunami advisory for the state’s coastline early Sunday, paving the way for beaches and harbors to reopen after widespread fears of waves generated from a powerful earthquake off the coast of Canada.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center lifted its tsunami advisory Sunday morning just before 4 a.m. local time, three hours after downgrading from a warning and less than six hours after the waves first hit the islands.

The biggest waves — about 5 feet high — appeared to hit Maui. A popular triathlon set for the island was expected to go on as planned, with county lifeguards giving the OK for a 1-mile ocean swim.

There were no immediate reports of damage, though one person died in a crash near a road that was closed because of the threat near Oahu’s north shore.

NEW YORK

Former Etan Patz suspect scheduled for release soon

NEW YORK — Prosecutors are weighing what to do about a suspect who surprisingly surfaced this year in a 1979 child disappearance in New York. The man who was the prime suspect for years is about to go free after almost two decades in prison for molesting children in Pennsylvania.

These two threads in the story surrounding the vanishing of Etan Patz are crossing next month. The 6-year-old was last seen walking to his school bus stop. The anniversary of the boy’s disappearance, May 25, is now National Missing Children’s Day.

The Pennsylvania inmate, Jose A. Ramos, is to be released Nov. 7 after serving 25 years on unrelated child molestation convictions in Pennsylvania. That is about a week before prosecutors are due to indicate whether they think there is evidence enough to keep going after the man now imprisoned in Etan’s death.

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