Nation briefs 04/21/03

Monday, April 21, 2003

Reports: Shuttle program manager to resign

HOUSTON -- The man in charge of NASA's space shuttle program, who was one of the agency's most recognized faces following the destruction of the shuttle Columbia, will soon resign, according to published reports.

Ron Dittemore had planned to resign earlier but postponed his departure because of the shuttle disaster and investigation, a source said Sunday.

The Orlando Sentinel reported Saturday that Dittemore is expected to announce his resignation this week.

The Sentinel said a search for Dittemore's replacement is under way. In the meantime, the Houston Chronicle reported Sunday that the shuttle program will be headed by William Readdy, NASA's associate administrator for spaceflight, and his deputy, Michael Kostelnik.

Dittemore, 51, originally intended to resign after Columbia completed its research flight on Feb. 1, a source told The Associated Press on Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity. The source said Dittemore's planned departure was common knowledge at NASA, and that he was going to take a job in private industry.

Facing personal grief and a public responsibility to find out what went wrong, Dittemore postponed his resignation after the shuttle disintegrated 38 miles over Texas, killing all seven astronauts.

Ancient village found under soil in Illinois

DAMIANSVILLE, Ill. -- Digging crews have found hundreds of 1,200-year-old stone arrowheads and pottery fragments buried under an Illinois hillside.

The discovery near this village about 35 miles east of St. Louis represents an important archaeological find, said Brad Koldehoff, a state archaeologist.

"It's a significant site. They discovered a keyhole-shaped house and what appears to be a small village," he said.

"Keyhole" houses are dwellings made of clay and logs with rooms half submerged in the ground. The large, dome-shaped living area at one end was reached by a long, straight, covered entrance, giving rise to the name "keyhole."

Microscopic examination of debris from their ancient garbage pits shows the inhabitants ate venison and turkey, plus what are today considered weeds. One common dish was a sort of pancake made from the seeds of knot weed.

The village dates from the Late Woodland period, from about 600 to 800 A.D., said Koldehoff.

What is learned from the dig will be integrated with knowledge gained from other finds in Illinois in recent years, including the 2001 discovery of 70 handmade ceremonial stone ax heads beneath a field in Shiloh.

More than 350 firefighters battle warehouse fire

CAMBRIDGE, Md. -- More than 350 firefighters battled a 10-alarm fire that destroyed four warehouses and caused an estimated $2 million worth of damage, officials said.

People within a half-mile radius of the blaze, whose flames were visible from up to 20 miles away, were evacuated Saturday as a precaution. But residents were allowed to return to their homes once the fire was under control, said Dorchester County Emergency Management director Wayne Robinson.

Officials called in 42 fire companies to assist. The fire, which started at a warehouse that stored wooden pallets, was contained but hotspots were expected to continue burning into the morning, officials said.

Robinson said there were no reported injuries and no word on how the fire might have started.-- From wire reports

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: