Virgin Orbit conducts drop-test of rocket from Boeing 747
LOS ANGELES — Virgin Galactic’s sister company Virgin Orbit conducted a drop test of its air-launched satellite booster over California on Wednesday, a key step toward space missions.
The 70-foot LauncherOne rocket was released from a Boeing 747 flying 35,000 feet over an Edwards Air Force Base test range in the Mojave Desert.
The purpose of the test was to observe how the rocket detached from the 747’s wing and its free-fall to the desert floor before the first actual orbital launch later this year.
The test did not involve the ignition of the rocket motor.
“The release was extremely smooth, and the rocket fell away nicely,” Chief Test Pilot Kelly Latimer said.
Trade representative to investigate French tech tax
WASHINGTON — The White House is launching an investigation into France’s proposed tax on internet giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook — a move that could lead to U.S. taxes on French imports.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer expressed concern that the tax, expected to be passed by the French Senate today, “unfairly targets American companies.”
Lighthizer’s agency will investigate the tax under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 — the same provision the Trump administration used last year to probe China’s technology policies, leading to tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports.
Missouri governor signs GM tax break
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday signed a business incentive bill aimed in part at enticing General Motors to expand in the state.
The economic development package will allow GM to receive up to $50 million of tax credits over 10 years if it invests $750 million to expand a Wentzville plant that makes trucks and vans.
Parson said Missouri is “still working with General Motors” on the potential to expand the St. Louis-area plant, but added that “we’re looking for a bright future on that.”
GM spokeswoman Kim Carpenter in a statement said the company is “still evaluating the overall business case for a potential project in Missouri.”
Keystone pipeline opponents seek to block construction
BILLINGS, Mont. — Opponents of the Keystone XL oil pipeline asked a judge to again block construction of the $8 billion project after President Donald Trump issued it a new permit.
Attorneys for environmental groups made the request Wednesday in a lawsuit before U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Montana. They say Trump’s permit was illegal.
The 1,184-mile pipeline proposed by TC Energy would carry crude oil from Canada to Nebraska.
Official: Lightning caused Jim Beam warehouse fire
VERSAILLES, Ky. — The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet says lightning sparked the fire at a Jim Beam warehouse that caused bourbon to leak into creeks and rivers.
News outlets report cabinet spokesman John Mura confirmed the cause Wednesday. The fire started July 2, destroying the Woodford County warehouse and about 45,000 barrels of bourbon.
Some alcohol flowed from Glenns Creek to the Kentucky River, and then to the Ohio River where, fish died. Jim Beam and environmental officials used equipment to restore oxygen to the water in an attempt to minimize the number of fish killed.