US to Use Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Fight Dengue Fever

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are seen at the Laboratory of Entomology and Ecology of the Dengue Branch of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in San Juan, March 6, 2016. (REUTERS/Alvin Baez)
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are seen at the Laboratory of Entomology and Ecology of the Dengue Branch of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in San Juan, March 6, 2016. (REUTERS/Alvin Baez)
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US to Use Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Fight Dengue Fever

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are seen at the Laboratory of Entomology and Ecology of the Dengue Branch of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in San Juan, March 6, 2016. (REUTERS/Alvin Baez)
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are seen at the Laboratory of Entomology and Ecology of the Dengue Branch of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in San Juan, March 6, 2016. (REUTERS/Alvin Baez)

After a decade of discussions, officials in Florida have voted to allow the first test in the United States of free-flying, genetically modified mosquitoes that kill any female offspring, as a way to fight the pests and the diseases they spread.

The decision came after about two hours of contentious testimony in a virtual public hearing on August 18. Many speakers railed against uncertainties in releasing genetically engineered organisms. In the end, though, worries about mosquito-borne diseases proved more compelling.

On the day of the vote, dengue fever cases in the Florida Keys islands totaled 47 so far in 2020, the first surge in almost a decade.

The same mosquitoes known for yellow fever (Aedes aegypti) also spread dengue as well as Zika and Chikungunya. The species is especially hard to control among about 45 kinds of mosquitoes that whine around the Keys.

According to a report by the Science News website, the genetically modified mosquitoes plan will kick off in January, 2021. Florida workers will set out boxes of eggs of specially bred male yellow fever mosquitoes. The eggs will grow into normal-looking males, and like other male mosquitoes, they drink flower nectar, not blood.

Then planners hope that during tests, these Oxitec foreigners will charm female mosquitoes into mating. A bit of saboteur genetics from the males will kill any female offspring resulting from the mating, and over time that should shrink the swarms. Sons that inherit their dad's no-daughter genes will go on to shrink the next generation even further.

By now, Oxitec has supplied some billion saboteur male mosquitoes for release elsewhere around the world, especially in Brazil, where Zika can flare up and dengue is common.

The company believes that its successful trials in other regions around the world are a sufficient response to the objections surrounding its project. No potential harms on humans or environment have been observed in the locations where genetically modified mosquitoes were launched.



After 'Barbie', Cinemars are Awaiting 'Monopoly'

The Monopoly film has been in development for more than a decade, according to the Hollywood Reporter. (The AP)
The Monopoly film has been in development for more than a decade, according to the Hollywood Reporter. (The AP)
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After 'Barbie', Cinemars are Awaiting 'Monopoly'

The Monopoly film has been in development for more than a decade, according to the Hollywood Reporter. (The AP)
The Monopoly film has been in development for more than a decade, according to the Hollywood Reporter. (The AP)

A film based on the classic board game Monopoly is preparing to pass go - with Margot Robbie's production company set to produce it.

The Monopoly film has been in development for more than a decade, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

But it was announced on Wednesday that Robbie's production company LuckyChap will produce it.

Hasbro Entertainment, part of the American toy company, will also be a producer, BBC reported.

Robbie's company most recently worked on Saltburn and last year's hit Barbie, which the Australian actress also starred in.

Speaking to Variety in February, Robbie, 33, said: "We want to make more films that have the effect that Barbie has.

"I don't know if it has to be Barbie 2. Why can't it be another big, original, bold idea where we get an amazing filmmaker, a big budget to play with, and the trust of a huge conglomerate behind them to go and really play? I want to do that."

Adam Fogelson, chairman of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, said they were "tremendously excited" about the project and believe it could be the next blockbuster.

Zev Foreman, head of film for Hasbro Entertainment, said: "As one of the most iconic games in the world, Monopoly provides an incredible platform for storytelling opportunities."

Last December Lionsgate extended its development rights to the board game when it bought Hasbro's Entertainment One (eOne).

Barbie was the highest-grossing film last year, making $1.38bn (£1.1bn) globally.


3 Men Rescued from Pacific Island After Writing ‘Help’ With Palm Leaves

3 Men Rescued from Pacific Island After Writing ‘Help’ With Palm Leaves
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3 Men Rescued from Pacific Island After Writing ‘Help’ With Palm Leaves

3 Men Rescued from Pacific Island After Writing ‘Help’ With Palm Leaves

A trio of sailors who spent more than a week stranded on a remote, uninhabited atoll in the Pacific were rescued by the US Coast Guard after a search and rescue team spotted a giant sign spelling ‘HELP’ the men had constructed from palm fronds on the beach.

The sailors, identified as three men in their 40s with sailing experience, set out from Polowat Atoll, southeast of Guam, on 31 March.

Their boat, a 20-foot open skiff with an outboard motor, sustained damage and the men were stranded on Pikelot Atoll, The Independent reported.

Nearly a week later, on 6 April, the US Joint Rescue Sub-Center in Guam got a distress call from a relative of the sailors, saying they hadn’t returned from Pikelot.

The call prompted US officials to begin a rescue operation spanning an area of over 78,000 nautical miles.

The following day, a US Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft operating out of Kadena Air Force Base in Japan spotted the mariners, along with a crude shelter they’d erected on the beach and dropped them survival packages.

On 8 April, a US Coast Guard HC-130J Hercules aircraft flew over the stranded men, dropping a radio to the missing sailors.

The men radioed back that they were “in good health” and “had access to food and water,” according to the Coast Guard. They had been surviving by eating coconuts.

The next day, a Coast Guard ship, the USCGC Oliver Henry, which had been diverted from its original course to join the rescue, picked up the sailors.


Meghan Markle, Prince Harry Producing 2 New Netflix Shows

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle appear onstage at the 2021 Global Citizen Live concert at Central Park in New York, US, September 25, 2021. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle appear onstage at the 2021 Global Citizen Live concert at Central Park in New York, US, September 25, 2021. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs/File Photo
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Meghan Markle, Prince Harry Producing 2 New Netflix Shows

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle appear onstage at the 2021 Global Citizen Live concert at Central Park in New York, US, September 25, 2021. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle appear onstage at the 2021 Global Citizen Live concert at Central Park in New York, US, September 25, 2021. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs/File Photo

Prince Harry and wife Meghan are producing two upcoming Netflix shows that will focus on cooking and a US polo championship, the streaming service has said.

The projects are part of a multi-year deal between Netflix and Archewell Productions, which was founded by the royal couple in 2020 after they stepped down as senior members of Britain's royal family and moved to the United States.

The first new series will focus on cooking, gardening, entertaining and friendship. The show is being "curated" by Markle, who is serving as an executive producer, Netflix said Thursday.

The second series will follow the US Open Polo Championship in Wellington, Florida, and offer a look at the competition and the polo industry's social scene. Markle and Prince Harry are both executive producers of the polo show.

Both series are in early production and will have titles and release dates announced "in the coming months," Netflix said, according to Reuters.

The new series follow other projects from the couple, including 2022 Netflix documentary "Harry & Meghan."


Clouds Gather over Japan’s Ambitious Osaka World Expo

This photo taken on April 2, 2024 shows construction underway at the site of the 2025 Expo on Yumeshima island, an area of reclaimed land in Osaka. (AFP)
This photo taken on April 2, 2024 shows construction underway at the site of the 2025 Expo on Yumeshima island, an area of reclaimed land in Osaka. (AFP)
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Clouds Gather over Japan’s Ambitious Osaka World Expo

This photo taken on April 2, 2024 shows construction underway at the site of the 2025 Expo on Yumeshima island, an area of reclaimed land in Osaka. (AFP)
This photo taken on April 2, 2024 shows construction underway at the site of the 2025 Expo on Yumeshima island, an area of reclaimed land in Osaka. (AFP)

One of the largest wooden structures ever built is taking shape in Osaka, but hopes that Expo 2025 will unite the world are being dogged by cost blowouts and a lack of public enthusiasm.

The imposing circular centerpiece will be crowned by a 20-metre-high (65-foot) sloping canopy, designed by top architect Sou Fujimoto, known as the "Grand Roof".

It has a circumference of a staggering two kilometers and 161 countries and territories will show off their trade opportunities and cultural attractions at pavilions within the vast latticed ring.

A crane hoisted a block of beams into place this week as organizers said construction was largely on schedule, one year before visitors will be welcomed.

Expo 2025 global PR director Sachiko Yoshimura maintained that global participants would be "united" by the event even though there are conflicts in Ukraine, Gaza and elsewhere.

Russia will not be among the participants at Expo 2025, which will run from April 13 to October 13.

"Of course, there are so many crises around the world, but we want everybody to actually get together and think about the future and sustainability," Yoshimura said.

It has also met a lukewarm response in Japan, where promotion is ramping up and the red-and-blue Expo 2025 mascot "Myaku-Myaku" -- billed by the official website as "a mysterious creature born from the unification of cells and water" -- is ever-present.

A recent Kyodo News survey found that 82 percent of Japanese companies, sponsors and others involved said "fostering domestic momentum" would be a challenge.

Ballooning budget

The construction budget has ballooned 27 percent from 2020 estimates to 235 billion yen ($1.5 billion) due to inflation and Japan's chronic worker shortage.

Some say the costs are also hard to justify when 6,300 people are still in evacuation centers and hotels after an earthquake on New Year's Day devastated parts of central Japan.

Fujimoto's "Grand Roof" alone has a price tag of 35 billion yen and has been slammed by opposition leader Kenta Izumi as "the world's most expensive parasol".

The "Grand Roof" and other structures are temporary, with no clear plan for them other than organizers saying they will be reused or recycled.

The site on an artificial island in Osaka Bay will be cleared after the Expo, with plans to build a resort there containing Japan's first casino.

Jun Takashina, deputy secretary general of the Japan Association for Osaka 2025, acknowledged budget and regulatory "struggles" among foreign participants but said organizers would help make sure the displays are ready in time.

Among the most hotly anticipated attractions are flying electric cars, which take off vertically, showcasing the event's technological and environmental aspirations.

But the vehicles -- subject to reams of regulations -- will be a "kind of experiment", Yoshimura said.

More than 1.2 million tickets have already been sold and organizers hope to attract 28.2 million visitors, including 3.5 million from abroad.

That would be four million more than the last World Fair in Dubai but pales in comparison to the 64 million people who attended the 1970 Expo in Osaka, a record until it was overtaken by Shanghai in 2010.

'Future like science fiction'

The first world fair to celebrate culture and industrial progress was held in London in 1851, with the Eiffel Tower built for the 1889 Paris World Fair.

Osaka academic Shinya Hashizume, a specialist in architecture history and town planning, said he was amazed as a 10-year-old when he saw a "future that looked like science fiction" at the 1970 Expo.

The first film in IMAX format was shown at that event and visitors could admire rocks brought back from the Moon.

"Those six months were extraordinary for Osaka. Simply put, the whole town was having a party," he said.

The advent of mass tourism and hyper-connected societies may have since lessened the attraction but some Osaka residents still think it's a good idea.

Kosuke Ito, a 36-year-old doctor, said it would "strengthen the economy".

However, Yuka Nakamura, 26, said she might be put off by adult entry fees ranging from 4,000 to 7,500 yen ($25 to $50) a day.


Red Sea Fund Launches 2nd Phase of 4th Cycle to Support Production Projects

Red Sea Fund Launches 2nd Phase of 4th Cycle to Support Production Projects
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Red Sea Fund Launches 2nd Phase of 4th Cycle to Support Production Projects

Red Sea Fund Launches 2nd Phase of 4th Cycle to Support Production Projects

The Red Sea Fund announced the launch of the second phase of its fourth cycle, dedicated to supporting projects in the production stage, which will continue until April 30.
The fund now accepts applications from directors of Arab and African origin and nationality. This includes feature-length fiction projects (minimum length of 60 minutes), documentaries, and animation projects, SPA reported.
The Red Sea Fund supports film projects that are ready for production, including feature films (no less than 60 minutes), whether fiction or animation, by Arab directors or those of Arab origin or African nationality. The fund also supports series (25-59 minutes per episode) by Arab directors or those of Arab origin or African nationality, in addition to short films (less than 60 minutes), whether fiction, documentary, or animation, by Saudi directors.
The Red Sea Fund, a leading force in the world of Arab and African film financing, operating through four cycles to support projects in the development, production, and post-production stages.


O.J. Simpson, Football Star Turned Celebrity Murder Defendant, Dead at 76

O. J. Simpson sits in Superior Court in Los Angeles on December 8, 1994 during an open court session where Judge Lance Ito denied a media attorney's request to open court transcripts from a 07 December private meeting involving prospective jurors. (AFP)
O. J. Simpson sits in Superior Court in Los Angeles on December 8, 1994 during an open court session where Judge Lance Ito denied a media attorney's request to open court transcripts from a 07 December private meeting involving prospective jurors. (AFP)
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O.J. Simpson, Football Star Turned Celebrity Murder Defendant, Dead at 76

O. J. Simpson sits in Superior Court in Los Angeles on December 8, 1994 during an open court session where Judge Lance Ito denied a media attorney's request to open court transcripts from a 07 December private meeting involving prospective jurors. (AFP)
O. J. Simpson sits in Superior Court in Los Angeles on December 8, 1994 during an open court session where Judge Lance Ito denied a media attorney's request to open court transcripts from a 07 December private meeting involving prospective jurors. (AFP)

O.J. Simpson, the American football star and actor who was sensationally acquitted in 1995 of murdering his former wife in what US media dubbed the "trial of the century", has died at the age of 76.

His family said in a social media post on Thursday that he had died on Wednesday after a battle with cancer.

Simpson was found not guilty in the 1994 stabbing deaths of former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman in Los Angeles, although he was found responsible for her death in a civil lawsuit.

Simpson later served nine years in a Nevada prison after being convicted in 2008 on 12 counts of armed robbery and kidnapping two sports memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a Las Vegas hotel.

Nicknamed "The Juice," Simpson was one of the best and most popular athletes of the late 1960s and 1970s. He overcame childhood infirmity to become an electrifying running back at the University of Southern California and won the Heisman Trophy as college football's top player. After a record-setting career in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Simpson parlayed his football stardom into a career as a sportscaster, advertising pitchman and Hollywood actor in films including the "Naked Gun" series.

All that changed after Nicole Brown Simpson and Goldman were found fatally slashed in a bloody scene outside her Los Angeles home on June 12, 1994.

Simpson quickly emerged as a suspect. He was ordered to surrender to police but five days after the killings, he fled in his white Ford Bronco with a former teammate - carrying his passport and a disguise. A slow-speed chase through the Los Angeles area ended at Simpson's mansion and he was later charged in the murders.

What ensued was one of the most notorious trials in 20th century America and a media circus. It had everything: a rich celebrity defendant; a Black man accused of killing his white former wife out of jealousy; a woman slain after divorcing a man who had beaten her; a "dream team" of pricy and charismatic defense lawyers; and a huge gaffe by prosecutors.

Simpson, who at the outset of the case declared himself "absolutely 100 percent not guilty," waved at the jurors and mouthed the words "thank you" after the predominately Black panel of 10 women and two men acquitted him on Oct. 3, 1995.

Prosecutors argued that Simpson killed Nicole in a jealous fury, and they presented extensive blood, hair and fiber tests linking Simpson to the murders. The defense countered that the celebrity defendant was framed by racist white police.

The trial transfixed America. In the White House, President Bill Clinton left the Oval Office and watched the verdict on his secretary's TV. Many Black Americans celebrated his acquittal, seeing Simpson as the victim of bigoted police. Many white Americans were appalled by his exoneration.

Simpson's legal team included prominent criminal defense lawyers Johnnie Cochran, Alan Dershowitz and F. Lee Bailey, who often out-maneuvered the prosecution. Prosecutors committed a memorable blunder when they directed Simpson to try on a pair of blood-stained gloves found at the murder scene, confident they would fit perfectly and show he was the killer.

In a highly theatrical demonstration, Simpson struggled to put on the gloves and indicated to the jury they did not fit.

Delivering the trial's most famous words, Cochran referred to the gloves in closing arguments to jurors with a rhyme: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." Dershowitz later called the prosecution decision to ask Simpson to try on the gloves "the greatest legal blunder of the 20th century."

"What this verdict tells you is how fame and money can buy the best defense, can take a case of overwhelming incriminating physical evidence and transform it into a case riddled with reasonable doubt," Peter Arenella, a UCLA law professor, told the New York Times after the verdict.

"A predominantly African-American jury was more susceptible to claims of police incompetence and corruption and more willing to impose a higher burden of proof than normally required for proof beyond a reasonable doubt," Arenella said.

After his acquittal, Simpson said that "I will pursue as my primary goal in life the killer or killers who slayed Nicole and Mr. Goldman... They are out there somewhere... I would not, could not and did not kill anyone."

The Goldman and Brown families subsequently pursued a wrongful death lawsuit against Simpson in civil court. In 1997, a predominately white jury in Santa Monica, California, found Simpson liable for the two deaths and ordered him to pay $33.5 million in damages.

"We finally have justice for Ron and Nicole," Fred Goldman, Ron Goldman's father, said after the verdict.

Simpson's "dream team" did not represent him in the civil trial in which the burden of proof was lower than in a criminal trial - a "preponderance of the evidence" rather than "beyond a reasonable doubt." New evidence also hurt Simpson, including photographs of him wearing the type of shoes that had left bloody footprints at the murder scene.

After the civil case, some of Simpson's belongings, including memorabilia from his football days, were taken and auctioned off to help pay the damages he owed.

On Oct. 3, 2008, exactly 13 years after his acquittal in the murder trial, he was convicted by a Las Vegas jury on charges including kidnapping and armed robbery. These stemmed from a 2007 incident at a casino hotel in which Simpson and five men, at least two carrying guns, stole sports memorabilia worth thousands of dollars from two dealers.

Simpson said he was just trying to recover his own property but was sentenced to up to 33 years in prison.

"I didn't want to hurt anybody," Simpson, donning a blue prison jumpsuit with shackles on his legs and wrists, said at his sentencing. "I didn't know I was doing anything wrong."

Simpson was released on parole in 2017 and moved into a gated community in Las Vegas. He was granted early release from parole in 2021 due to good behavior at age 74.

His life saga was recounted in the Oscar-winning 2016 documentary "O.J.: Made in America" as well as various TV dramatizations.

Orenthal James Simpson was born in San Francisco on July 9, 1947. He contracted rickets at age 2 and was forced to wear leg braces until he was 5 but recovered so thoroughly that he became one of the most celebrated football players of all time.

During nine seasons for the Buffalo Bills and two for the San Francisco 49ers, Simpson became one of the greatest ball carriers in NFL history. In 1973, he became the first NFL player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season. He retired in 1979.

Simpson also became an advertising pitchman, best known for years of TV commercials for Hertz rental cars. As an actor, he appeared in movies including "The Towering Inferno" (1974), "Capricorn One" (1977) and the "The Naked Gun" cop spoof films in 1988, 1991 and 1994, playing a witless police detective.

Simpson married his first wife, Marguerite, in 1967 and they had three children, including one who drowned in the family's swimming pool at age 2 in 1979, the year the couple divorced.

Simpson met future wife Nicole Brown when she was a 17-year-old waitress and he was still married to Marguerite. Simpson and Brown married in 1985 and had two children. She later called police after incidents in which he struck her. Simpson pleaded no contest to spousal abuse charges in 1989.


Horse Waits for Train at Station in Australia

The racehorse queuing for their own transport - The Racing Post
The racehorse queuing for their own transport - The Racing Post
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Horse Waits for Train at Station in Australia

The racehorse queuing for their own transport - The Racing Post
The racehorse queuing for their own transport - The Racing Post

An escaped horse was captured on security video waiting for the train at a railway station in Sydney, Australia, last week.

Photos show the horse walking along the railway platform amid a storm on Friday and standing patiently as a train pulled in, as if waiting to board.

Racing NSW chief steward Steve Railton told Racenet: "We've spoken to Annabel Neasham and she explained to us that on Friday evening an unknown person gained access to one of her stable blocks. Four horses were released by the individual – three registered racehorses and a stable pony.

Three of those horses remained nearby to the stable, while the horse depicted in video released on social media platforms went in a different direction, according to The Racing Post.

"Neasham and her staff caught the horse in the car park of the train station, and she's advised stewards she wasn't aware until she saw the footage that the horse had walked on to the platform."


Leonardo DiCaprio Voices Support for Scotland in Rewilding Efforts

Leonardo DiCaprio. (File Photo/ The AP)
Leonardo DiCaprio. (File Photo/ The AP)
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Leonardo DiCaprio Voices Support for Scotland in Rewilding Efforts

Leonardo DiCaprio. (File Photo/ The AP)
Leonardo DiCaprio. (File Photo/ The AP)

Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio has joined Scottish environmentalists in urging ministers to declare the country a rewilding nation.

He took to Instagram to share the message of the Scottish Rewilding Alliance with his 62.1 million followers.

The Oscar-winning actor wrote: "The Scottish Rewilding Alliance is urging the Scottish government to declare Scotland a rewilding nation, committing to nature recovery across 30% of the land and seas to benefit nature, climate, and people."

About 6,000 years ago, most of southern Scotland was covered by broadleaf woodland, interspersed with patches of rich scrub, heath, and bog, he noted.

"With this campaign, Scotland could be a world leader in rewilding its landscapes, ensuring clean air and water, storing carbon, reducing flooding, restoring wildlife, and improving the lives of locals."

DiCaprio - who attended COP26 in Glasgow as a UN representative on climate change - called on his followers to visit the link in on his social media page to learn more about the cause.


Moderna Puts Kenya Plant Plans on Hold as COVID Vaccine Demand Slumps

FILE PHOTO: Moderna logo is seen displayed in this illustration taken, May 3, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Moderna logo is seen displayed in this illustration taken, May 3, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
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Moderna Puts Kenya Plant Plans on Hold as COVID Vaccine Demand Slumps

FILE PHOTO: Moderna logo is seen displayed in this illustration taken, May 3, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Moderna logo is seen displayed in this illustration taken, May 3, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Moderna said on Thursday it had paused its plans to build a vaccine manufacturing facility in Kenya, following a post-pandemic decline in demand for COVID-19 vaccines.
The company had said in 2022 that it would invest about $500 million in the Kenyan facility and supply as many as 500 million doses of its mRNA vaccines to the continent each year.
It also had plans to start filling doses of its COVID vaccine in Africa as early as 2023.
However, demand for COVID vaccines has since then waned following the end of the pandemic and Moderna has not received any vaccine orders for Africa since 2022, the company said, according to Reuters.
The drugmaker said it had taken more than $1 billion in losses and write-downs related to the cancellation of previous orders.


Russia Launches Angara-A5 Space Rocket

FILE PHOTO: The Angara-A5 rocket is seen on its launchpad at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the far eastern Amur region, Russia, April 8, 2024. Roscosmos/Handout via REUTERS
FILE PHOTO: The Angara-A5 rocket is seen on its launchpad at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the far eastern Amur region, Russia, April 8, 2024. Roscosmos/Handout via REUTERS
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Russia Launches Angara-A5 Space Rocket

FILE PHOTO: The Angara-A5 rocket is seen on its launchpad at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the far eastern Amur region, Russia, April 8, 2024. Roscosmos/Handout via REUTERS
FILE PHOTO: The Angara-A5 rocket is seen on its launchpad at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the far eastern Amur region, Russia, April 8, 2024. Roscosmos/Handout via REUTERS

Russia test launched its Angara-A5 rocket from the Far Eastern Vostochny Cosmodrome on Thursday after technical glitches prompted officials to abort missions at the very last minute for two days in a row.

The launch of the Angara is intended to showcase Russia's post-Soviet space ambitions and the growing role played by Vostochny.

On Wednesday the test launch of the space rocket was cancelled due to a malfunction of the engine launch control system.

The first attempt on Tuesday also failed because the automatic safety system registered a flaw in the oxidizer tank pressurization system, said National space agency Roscosmos head Yuri Borisov.

Thursday’s launch was the fourth for the Angara-A5, a heavy-lift version of the new Angara family of rockets that has been developed to replace the Soviet-designed Proton rockets.

The previous three launches were carried out from the Plesetsk launchpad in northwestern Russia.

After the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia leased the Baikonur Cosmodrome from Kazakhstan and continued to use it for most of its space launches. The agreement with Kazakhstan allows Russia to keep leasing Baikonur for $115 million a year through 2050.