In brief: NASA confident with Russia’s Soyuz rocket

Washington – NASA says it still has confidence in the quality of Russia’s manned rockets, despite an embarrassing series of glitches and failures in the Russian space program.

A leak developed recently during a test of the next Soyuz capsule scheduled to launch astronauts to the International Space Station, so Russian space officials have decided not to use it. That delays upcoming launches. NASA relies solely on Russia to take crews to the space station.

NASA space station manager Michael Suffredini said Thursday he still considers the Soyuz rocket the world’s most reliable space system.

The Soyuz leak means that the six crew members at the space station will now spend a few extra weeks in space. American Dan Burbank, who is the station commander, and Russians Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin will stay in orbit until the end of April. American Don Petit, Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers and Russian Oleg Konenko, will stay through the end of June for about 193 days in space, pushing close to the limit of 200 days that NASA likes.

Santorum’s daughter home from hospital

Fallon, Nev. – GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum said Thursday his 3-year-old daughter, Bella, is home from the hospital after a bout with pneumonia.

Santorum told reporters that his daughter left the hospital on Thursday and is back at her Virginia home. The former Pennsylvania senator took a break from campaigning last weekend to rush home to be with his ailing daughter.

Bella Santorum has genetic disorder Trisomy 18, which her father often describes to audiences as “incompatible with life.” Any health issues can prove fatal for the youngster.

Santorum canceled his schedule last Sunday, just before Florida had its primary on Tuesday.

Inmate adds pig image to police cruiser decals

Montpelier, Vt. – A prison inmate who makes stationery and license plates pulled a fast one on state police by adding the image of a pig to the state decal on their cruisers.

On the 16-inch car door decals, made by prisoners in Windsor, one of the spots on a cow in a scene with mountains and a pine tree has been changed to the shape of a pig.

A Vermont state trooper discovered the pig while inspecting his vehicle on Wednesday. State police say they believe the decals have been added to about 30 cruisers in the past year.

About 60 altered decals were made over the last couple of years, said Andy Pallito, commissioner of the Department of Corrections, which is looking into who made the modification and when.

New decals will be made by Monday at a cost of $780.

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