The Wider World

Newest astronaut is richest

RICHARD BRANSON aboard his Virgin Galactic spaceship (Facebook).

Space flight isn’t just for square-jawed former test pilots or microscope-studying scientists any more.

Powered by money and advanced aerospace technology, billionaire Richard Branson, 71, and five crewmates hurtled nearly 54 miles above the earth’s surface on Sunday, thus qualifying as astronauts.

According to the Associated Press, Branson and colleagues spent 15 minutes in space aboard the winged Virgin Galactic craft, which provided a short taste of weightlessness and a glimpse of the curvature of the Earth.

“The whole thing was just magical, it was just magical,” said Branson upon his return.

That flight not only served as a promotion for his planned space tourism project, but also allowed him to beat rival Jeff Bezos, who plans to make a similar flight in nine days, according to The New York Times.

Branson is considered to be the world’s richest person, with an estimated fortune of $6 billion. He started as owner of a small record shop in London, became a music producer and founded the Virgin Atlantic airline.

West should get a break from heat

TEMPERATURES in the high 90s and 100s are roasting the Northwest and Northeast (Shutterstock).

It won’t exactly be cool, but people living in the western United States can expect a slight break in the heat wave that’s scorched wide areas over the weekend.

According to USA Today, all-time record high temperatures were recorded in areas of California, Nevada and Arizona. A new high of 129 degrees is forecast for Death Valley today. The world record high is 134 degrees. Las Vegas hit a record high of 117 degrees on Saturday.

Forecasts for Monday suggest a decrease in 5 to 10 degrees.

In Orange County, where the heat has been far more moderate, Sunday’s high was 82, with a high of 85 predicted for Friday. Temps will be in the mid-80s all week, finally cooling to 80 next weekend.

Angels and Dodgers gain ground

In the final series before the All-Star break, the Angels and Dodgers both posted wins on Sunday. The Angels defeated the Mariners 7-1 to improve to 45-44 and head into the break nine games out of first in the AL West and two games out of third.

MAX MUNCY won the game Sunday with a three-run walkout homer.

David Fletcher extended his hitting streak to 24 games and had four hits and four RBIs. The Halos have won seven of their last 10 games.

The Dodgers kept closing on the San Francisco Giants with a 7-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, cutting their lead in the NL West to two games. They had to overcome a 4-1 deficit with three runs in the eighth and ninth innings. Max Muncy had the game winner with a three-run walkoff homer.

On Saturday, the Angels lost 2-0 to the Seattle Mariners, dropping back to .500 at 44-44 and falling three games back of the third-place M’s

The Dodgers did much better, crushing the Arizona Diamondbacks 22-1. The Hollywood crew rattled 21 hits around the stadium.

Overall, the team hit eight homers, with A.J. Pollock and Albert Pujols each hitting two home runs; Justin Turner and Mookie Betts each belted a grand slam.

With the win, the Dodgers (55-35) pulled to within 2.5 games of the San Francisco Giants, the leader in the NL West.


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