Nation/World Briefly: Washington state woman blasts off on shuttle

  • Mon Apr 5th, 2010 10:27pm
  • News

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Two astronauts with ties to the Northwest blasted off with five others on the shuttle Discovery on Monday, headed for a rendezvous with the International Space Station.

Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger is a former high-school science teacher from Vancouver, Wash. The shuttle pilot is Air Force Col. James Dutton of Eugene, Ore., a University of Washington graduate.

It was a question about how astronauts go to the bathroom in space from one of her students at Hudson’s Bay High School that sent Metcalf-Lindenburger to NASA’s Web site, where she saw the notice for educator-astronauts. Metcalf-Lindenburger was accepted into the program in 2004.

Problems with Discovery’s main antenna cropped up as soon as the shuttle reached orbit and could affect the radar needed for the rendezvous, Mission Control said. A spokesman stressed there were other tools to work around the situation.

NASA officials noted three small pieces of insulating foam flying off Discovery’s fuel tank, too late in the flight to pose a safety concern.

The shuttle should arrive at the space station Wednesday. The nearly two-week mission will stock the space station with supplies and experiments.

D.C.: Lawmakers wrangle over expired jobless benefits

Even as unemployment benefits expired Monday for tens of thousands of jobless workers, Democrats and Republicans renewed their haggling over whether to vote for an extension when Congress returns from its spring break next week. Senate Democrats rejected Republican charges that they had backed away from a GOP proposal to give quick approval to a one-week extension that would be paid for with budget offsets. At the heart of the dispute over extending jobless benefits is the question of how to pay for them. Democrats in both the House and the Senate want the extension to be classified as “emergency spending,” which can be added to the deficit and does not have to be paid for with specific cuts or new revenue.

Mexico: Aftershocks strike

Aftershocks rattled the southwest Mexico-U.S. border Monday in the aftermath of a 7.2-magnitude quake Sunday, centered just south of the U.S. border near Mexicali, that killed two people, blacked out cities and forced the evacuation of hospitals and nursing homes. Scientists said the main earthquake probably occurred on a fault that has not produced a major temblor in more than a century. Preliminary data suggest the quake occurred on the Laguna Salada fault, which last unleashed a similar-sized quake in 1892.

Haiti: Schools open again

The official reopening of schools among the ruins of Port-au-Prince on Monday also highlighted the recovery that Haiti’s hard-hit education system has yet to achieve. The yard at Moris’ public school remained covered with smashed concrete, glass, torn notebook paper. Parents did not want their children to enter a pair of concrete buildings still standing for fear they might give way from damage or an aftershock. And there was no sign of the tents promised by the Education Ministry in sight, so the school eventually sent all the students home until next Monday. Only a few hundred schools are expected to open this week; the 7.0-magnitude quake Jan. 12 destroyed about 4,000 schools.

From Herald news services