Military orbiter’s landing rattles Florida with sonic boom

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — U.S. military officials say an unmanned spacecraft orbiting Earth since May 2015 has landed in Florida.

The Air Force posted tweets that the X37B spacecraft landed Sunday morning at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral after 718 days in orbit.

Multiple media outlets reported that the 29-foot-long spacecraft’s return caused a sonic boom that rattled central Florida and could be heard as far away as Tampa and Fort Myers.

It’s the spacecraft’s first landing in Florida. Previous X37B missions have landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

In a statement , officials said the X37B spacecraft is “an experimental test program to demonstrate technologies for a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform for the U.S. Air Force.” Another mission is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral later this year.

After construction setbacks, science museum opens in Miami

MIAMI (AP) — A long-awaited science museum is set to open to the public in Miami.

The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science will open Monday in downtown Miami after five years of construction. The $305 million building features a digital planetarium housed in a globe-shaped structure, a 500,000-gallon aquarium simulating a dive into the Gulf Stream and displays that show injured birds undergoing rehabilitation.

The Miami Herald reports (http://hrld.us/2qETQIa ) that other animal displays include juvenile alligators, sharks and live coral.

The museum expects 750,000 visitors in its first year of operation.

Revenue from ticket sales will be critical to its financial success. The museum required a $49 million bailout from Miami-Dade County taxpayers last year after a budget crunch blamed on a private fundraising shortfall threatened to halt construction.

Trial set for man accused of killing 3 at home and church

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — A man accused of killing his wife, neighbor and a pastor is set to stand trial in southwest Florida.

Andres Avalos, 36, faces three counts of first-degree murder in the Dec. 4, 2014, deaths of Amber Avalos, Denise Potter and the Rev. James “Tripp” Battle. Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in a Manatee County courtroom.

Prosecutors have said they plan to seek the death penalty if Avalos is convicted.

The Bradenton Herald reports (http://bit.ly/2pTuZCD ) that court records show Avalos’ defense attorneys plan to claim insanity. The records also show defense attorneys plan to call on doctors to testify that Avalos suffers from several mental health disorders.

Sheriff’s office detectives said Avalos killed his wife and Potter at his home before driving to Bayshore Baptist Church, where he shot and killed Battle.

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News Talk Florida Staff