March 6, 2011 in Nation/World

In brief: Air Force sends X-37B into space

 

Cape Canaveral, Fla. – The Air Force launched an unmanned experimental space plane on an Atlas V rocket Saturday.

Air Force officials weren’t saying much about the X-37B orbital test vehicle. It’s the second of its type to be launched. The first rocketed into orbit last spring. It landed in California in December following a 270-day mission.

The X-37B, which resembles a small shuttle, is 29 feet long with a wingspan of 15 feet. The Air Force said the newest craft will serve as a test platform for satellite sensors and systems. The ultimate purpose of the X-37B and details about the craft largely remain a mystery.

Father dies after falling into mine

Reno, Nev. – A father of five children has died after falling into a mine shaft so deep and treacherous that rescuers had to abandon efforts to reach him while he was still alive, officials said Saturday.

Devin Westenskow, 28, of Evanston, Wyo., worked at a geothermal drilling operation in Nevada and had gone exploring Wednesday with two friends during his off-hours when he fell 190 feet into the open shaft northeast of Reno.

The decision to end the rescue came after two unsuccessful attempts by search teams to descend into the shaft, said Doran Sanchez, a U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokesman.

An attempt Thursday caused walls of the 100-plus-year-old shaft to crumble and rocks to fall on rescuers, he said.

Westenskow was given his last rites Friday. He was pronounced dead at 12:30 p.m. that day, after the Pershing County coroner’s office determined he had stopped breathing by reviewing images from a video camera they had lowered into the shaft, Sanchez said.

Mother wants apology for ad

New York – A New Jersey mother who was shocked to learn that her 6-year-old daughter’s face was on a provocative anti-abortion billboard in New York said she’s angry she hasn’t received an apology from the group responsible for the advertisement.

Tricia Fraser, of Paterson, told the New York Daily News she was outraged by the ad. It said, “The most dangerous place for African-Americans is in the womb.”

Fraser said the picture was taken at a modeling agency two years ago. She said she knew it could wind up being used as a stock photograph but didn’t expect anything like this.

The billboard was taken down after blacks complained.

A spokeswoman for the anti-abortion group that created the ad, Life Always, said it won’t use the girl’s picture again.

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