State Briefs

Posted: Monday, November 12, 2001

Rocket destroyed after launch

ANCHORAGE - A rocket sent aloft from the Kodiak Launch Complex had to be destroyed seconds after liftoff when trackers lost communication with the missile.

It was the first time a rocket used in testing for the missile defense program had to be destroyed after launch, said Col. Rick Lehner, spokesman for the missile defense program in Washington, D.C.

The rocket was launched from the complex, operated by the Alaska Aerospace Development Corp., at 9:12 a.m. Friday. It was destroyed 52 seconds later when launch officials lost telemetry data and data transmission from the missile, Lehner said. The pieces dropped into the ocean and were spread over an area 17 to 45 miles from the island, he said.

"It seems to be a telemetry problem and safety rules dictate that, if you lose that type of data transmission, you have to destroy the missile," Lehner said. Despite the loss of data, the rocket remained on course until it was destroyed. A board will be convened to investigate the problem, Lehner said.

The rocket was launched to learn more about how ground-based radar systems in California would pick up the characteristics of a warhead and decoys in space, Lehner said. The information would have been used to help design missile defense technology, he said.

Knowles wants more school funds

ANCHORAGE - Gov. Tony Knowles will ask the Legislature for $32.7 million more in education spending next year, including more money for statewide testing, teacher incentives and aid to rural schools.

The largest share of the request will be $22.9 million more in the foundation formula, the state's per-student funding for schools. Knowles also will ask for $1.2 million in additional aid for rural schools.

That program went unfunded last year and the Democrat governor called on the GOP-controlled Legislature to fix a disparity between urban and rural schools during a speech Friday before the Association of School Boards in Anchorage. The funding request includes $7 million for statewide tests. Another $800,000 would be set aside for a student loan aid program to attract more teachers to Alaska.

The spending plan is part of a series of recommendations from an 11-member task force.

Overall education funding was increased last year by $31 million. Lawmakers earmarked $24 million in additional K-12 funding. But lawmakers did not fund about $12.2 million of Knowles requests.

Kayak teacher dies during lesson

SITKA - A kayak instructor died Thursday while teaching a student to perform maneuvers, Sitka police said Friday.

Kenneth Frank Schaeffer, 49, was displaying a rollover maneuver to a student when he apparently struck a submerged rock, police said. Schaeffer was the owner of owned Baidarka Boats in Sitka.

At the time of the accident Thursday, Schaeffer was providing kayaking instruction to Susan Kay Feero.

Schaeffer got out of the kayak after it rolled over and told her he thought he would be all right, police said. Schaeffer had a laceration and bruising above his left eye.

Feero grabbed him and began paddling back to shore when the man rolled over in the water and began floating, police said. Rescuers on shore were unable to revive him. Schaeffer was pronounced dead at Sitka Community Hospital.

Feero was treated at Sitka Community Hospital for possible hypothermia and later released, police said. An autopsy will be performed on Schaeffer by the state Medical Examiner's Office, police said.

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