Virgin Galactic on Monday took the cloak off SpaceShipTwo, which had been under secret development for two years. The spacecraft is about the size of a large business jet, with wide windows and seats for six well-heeled passengers to take a ride into space. It's billed as the world's first commercial spaceship and will sell suborbital space rides for $200,000 a ticket, offering passengers 2-1/2-hour flights that include about five minutes of weightlessness. Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson, who partnered with famed aviation designer Burt Rutan on the venture, hopes to begin passenger flights out of New Mexico sometime in 2011 after a series of safety tests. The spacecraft will be named Enterprise.
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Mini-sub found at Pearl Harbor site
The remains of a two-man, 80-foot Japanese submarine that participated in the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor may have been discovered. Five mini-subs were to attack, but four were scuttled, destroyed or run aground. The fate of the fifth remained a mystery. New evidence suggests that it fired its two 800-pound torpedoes, probably at the battleships West Virginia and Oklahoma, capsizing the latter. A day later, says marine historian and former Navy submariner Parks Stephenson, who pieced together the evidence for the television program Nova, the mini-sub's crew scuttled it. When the Navy scooped up war wreckage and dumped it outside the harbor, it apparently also dumped the mini-sub's remains, which were mingled with the damaged U.S. ships. Burl Burlingame, a journalist at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and author of Advance Force: Pearl Harbor, cautions, "There is a good chance that this is the Pearl Harbor midget, but I don't think the case is closed on it."
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School offers a lot of sweet talk
There's a lot of talk about regulations, tools of the trade and flavor at the International Maple Grading School in Maine. Syrup buyers, producers and inspectors learn about all things syrup, such as government rules and equipment that measures syrup's color, clarity and density. They even have syrup samplings that are a lot like wine tastings. The syrup school is in its sixth year and is held for two days at different locations. This year's school was held at University of Maine Cooperative Extension offices in Skowhegan. U.S. maple syrup production this year reached its highest level since 1944.
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Thieves tunnel their way to $6M
Thieves who spent months tunneling from a rented house to an armored car company's safe made off with nearly $6 million over the weekend as season-ending soccer matches virtually paralyzed Brazil, authorities said Monday. The heist was discovered Sunday night hours after the games ended. Officers followed the tunnel from the company's safe some 110 yards underground to a house, Sao Paulo police said. Officials with the armored car company told officers that 10 million reals ($5.9 million) were missing.
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BY THE NUMBERS
Mustangs and burros the federal Bureau of Land Management wants to move to pastures in the Midwest and East out of fear their fast-multiplying numbers will lead to mass starvation. The group In Defense of Animals opposes the move.
The amount the BLM has spent this year to feed, corral and otherwise manage the nation's wild horses, up from $36 million last year. The BLM says the mustang population is growing so rapidly that the horses are quickly running out of food in 10 Western states.
Other wild horses that already live away from the range in federal-run corrals and pastures, which are nearly full. An additional 37,000 wild horses and burros live on public lands in the West, about half of them in Nevada.