'Hold, hold, hold' - Last-minute technical problem delays NASA's flight to sun

A last-minute technical problem yesterday delayed NASA's unprecedented flight to the sun.

The early morning launch countdown was halted with just one-minute, 55 seconds remaining, keeping the Delta IV rocket on its pad with the Parker Solar Probe.

Rocket maker United Launch Alliance said it would try again today, provided the helium-pressure issue can be resolved quickly.

As soon as the red pressure alarm for the gaseous helium system went off, a launch controller ordered, "Hold, hold, hold".

Once on its way, the Parker probe will venture closer to our star than any other spacecraft.

The $2.2 million (USD) mission is already a week late because of rocket issues.

Yesterday's launch attempt encountered a series of snags; in the end, controllers ran out of time.

Thousands of spectators gathered in the middle of the night to witness the launch, including the University of Chicago astrophysicist for whom the spacecraft is named.

Eugene Parker predicted the existence of solar wind 60 years ago.

He's now 91 and eager to see the solar probe soar.

He plans to stick around at least another few days.

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket with the Parker Solar Probe onboard shortly after the Mobile Service Tower was rolled back. Source: Associated Press

West Australian pet welfare programmes get million dollar cash boost

Pets caught out in family and domestic violence will be a little better off with the West Australian government's $1.1 million-plus splash for welfare programs, animal shelter upgrades and equipment.

The RSPCA WA has been given $111,000 to continue the Pets in Crisis program which allows pets to be temporarily fostered out anonymously while their parents escape unsafe home situations.

More than $1 million will be used for equipment and upgrades at the Malaga site while the rest will go to other projects including four new vehicles for remote travel to kennel upgrades.

Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence Minister Simone McGurk said the money would go to "long-overdue upgrades" and help produce positive results in keeping women and children safe.

"People may find it difficult to seek help due to concern for the pet's safety so this program may help to save both human and animal lives," she said.

A yellow Labrador Retriever puppy playing with ball tennis outdoors in the grass
Labrador Retriever puppy playing with tennis ball. (File) Source: istock.com


Nine-year-old Indian-born chess prodigy wins fight to stay in Britain

A nine-year-old India-born chess prodigy whose fight to stay in Britain drew international attention can remain in the country, the UK government said yesterday.

Shreyas Royal, who came to Britain with his family when he was three years old, has competed internationally and came fourth in the World Cadets competition in Brazil last year. But his family faced having to leave the UK when his father's work visa expires next month.

The English Chess Federation and two lawmakers had appealed to Home Secretary Sajid Javid to let the family stay, saying Shreyas was the UK's greatest chess talent in a generation and had lived in the country most of his life.

Javid said Friday (local time) that, "after carefully reviewing the evidence, I have taken the personal decision to allow Shreyas and his family to stay in the UK."

"We have always been clear we want a world-class immigration system that welcomes highly talented individuals from across the globe," he said.

The boy's father, Jitendra Singh, said Shreyas "jumped on the sofa and started dancing" when he heard the news.

He said the decision was "such a relief for us."

"Yesterday we were packing to leave, we thought we had to go," said Mr Singh, an IT project manager.

London's Battersea Chess Club, where Shreyas plays, thanked supporters and said the young chess player had "a big future ahead of him on the world stage, hopefully representing England."

Immigration is a divisive issue in Britain, and reducing the number of newcomers was a major factor for many voters who in 2016 backed leaving the European Union. The Conservative government says it wants Britain to remain open to global talent, but has tightened policies in recent years in a bid to create a "hostile environment" for illegal immigration.

Critics say many legal immigrants to Britain have suffered as a result of excessive bureaucracy and harsh decisions. Earlier this year it was revealed that hundreds of legal long-term residents from the Caribbean had been refused medical care or threatened with deportation because they could not produce paperwork to prove their right to remain in the UK.

Javid, who was appointed in April after the migration scandal felled his predecessor, has said the term "hostile environment" ''does not represent our values as a country."

Nigel Short is in Auckland for a tournament, but took the afternoon to back up his controversial claims that women just aren’t "hardwired" for playing chess.
Source: 1 NEWS