COOS BAY — The first weekend of February saw another successful used book sale at the Coos Bay Public Library.
Nine months each year, the library holds a book sale on the first weekend of the month where they sell used books they acquire through donations.
Between 30 and 40 volunteers worked the book sale. The book sale gets around 200 people who show up each month, most of whom come early in the morning hoping to get first pick of the available books.
“On Saturday mornings, the sidewalk is lined up with people,” volunteer Joanna Sullivan said.
Many of the same people return each month to the used book sale some of them even donate the books they bought the previous month when they come to pick up new books.
“Nearly everything is donated from outside. People buy at the book sale and then at the next one they bring their little bags back. So we do a lot of recycling that way,” volunteer Marie Benton said.
Large book donations often come from people who are moving and looking to compress their book collections, and estate sales.
“We get a lot of books when people downsize and move into assisted living or just move period. That's when we get our most interesting books,” Benton said.
Some books are available for free, others, are worth quite a bit of money. Outside of setting up and breaking down the book sale, volunteers also search every book online to figure out what it’s worth, and then price their copy a bit under retail.
The book sale sees a spike in business during Coos Bay’s tourist season. According to Benton people who are visiting in their campers will stop by and purchase books.
“We have lots of tourists come in. I mean all kinds of people from different states who find out where the library is and they just happen to hit a book sale,” Sullivan said.
All proceeds from the sale go to the library. Each book sale raises between $900 and $1,200.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX's hot new monster rocket makes its launch debut this week, blasting off from the same pad that hoisted men to the moon a half-century ago.
The Falcon Heavy won't surpass NASA's Saturn V moon rocket, still all-time king of the launch circuit. It won't even approach the liftoff might of NASA's space shuttles.
But when it departs on its first test flight — as early as Tuesday — the Heavy with its three boosters and 27 engines will be the most powerful working rocket out there today, by a factor of two. Picture SpaceX's frequent-flyer Falcon 9 and its single booster and then times that by three; the Heavy's three first-stage boosters are strapped side by side by side.
The Heavy represents serious business for the private space company founded 16 years ago by Elon Musk. With more than 5 million pounds of liftoff thrust — equivalent to 18 747s jetliners — the Heavy will be capable of lifting supersize satellites into orbit and sending spacecraft to the moon, Mars and beyond.
Using another airplane analogy, SpaceX boasts a Heavy could lift a 737 into orbit, passengers, luggage and all.
The company already has some Heavy customers lined up, including the U.S. Air Force.
"I can't wait to see it fly and to see it fly again and again," said the Southwest Research Institute's Alan Stern. He's the lead scientist for NASA's New Horizons spacecraft which made an unprecedented flyby of Pluto and is now headed to an even smaller, icy world on the fringes of the solar system.
Cape Canaveral hasn't seen this kind of rocket mania since the last space shuttle flight in 2011. Huge crowds are expected for the afternoon launch from Kennedy Space Center. Visitor center tickets for the best up-close viewing, called "Feel the Heat" and "Closest Package," sold out quickly.
"When you're talking about what would be the biggest and largest operational launch vehicle in the world, that adds another dimension of excitement," said Phil Larson, an assistant dean at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who used to work for SpaceX and the Obama administration.
The Heavy is capable of delivering, in one fell swoop, 140,660 pounds of cargo to low-Earth orbit, nearly 60,000 pounds to high-Earth orbit, 37,000 pounds to Mars, or 7,700 pounds to Pluto.
But for this inaugural flight, the rocket will carry up Musk's cherry-red Tesla Roadster. In addition to SpaceX, he runs the electric car maker Tesla.
"Red car for a red planet," Musk tweeted in December, when announcing the surprise cargo.
Fresh-off-the-drawing-board rockets typically carry steel or concrete blocks in place of true cargo.
"That seemed extremely boring," Musk explained.
NASA officials said the Falcon Heavy is just the latest evidence of the Kennedy Space Center's transformation into a multi-user spaceport, a turnaround after decades of space shuttles taking center stage.
A variety of rockets will be needed — besides NASA's still-under-construction Space Launch System megarocket — as astronauts venture out into the solar system, said Kennedy's director of center planning and development, Tom Engler. Blue Origin, led by Amazon's Jeff Bezos, for instance, is developing a big, reusable orbital-class rocket named New Glenn after the first American to orbit the world, John Glenn.
Cocoa Beach Mayor Ben Malik, a banker by day, noted that jobs are making a big comeback, with so many private rocketeers and other aerospace businesses hitting town. The area suffered thousands of layoffs when the 30-year space shuttle program ended.
"We are not only back, but the region is much more diversified," Malik said. "We are becoming a high-tech hub."
Stern sees the Heavy opening the door to more exploration, both human and robotic, given its heft and cost savings. SpaceX's launch failures of Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 showed the company has "a very strong backbone." While Falcon 1 was completely on the SpaceX tab, Falcon 9 benefited from the company's contracts with NASA for space station shipments.
This persistence resulted in SpaceX becoming, in 2010, the first private company to launch a spacecraft into orbit and then safely guide it back to Earth, something only large governments had accomplished. Two years later, SpaceX became the first commercial supplier of the International Space Station. Now the company is aiming for the first commercial crew launch.
At the heart of SpaceX's cost savings is its rocket-recycling campaign. Two of the Heavy's first-stage boosters are repeats, having flown on Falcon 9s. The company will attempt to recover all three boosters; the two old boosters will aim for side-by-side vertical touchdowns at Cape Canaveral, while the new, beefed-up center core will attempt to land on a floating ocean platform.
Rocket makers typically discard their leftover boosters in the ocean. Now those boosters often come back and land, at least when it's SpaceX, complete with sonic booms just like the old shuttle days.
Unlike most rockets out there, the Falcon Heavy receives no government funding. The Mars-obsessed Musk has taken it upon himself and his California-based aerospace company to bankroll the hulking rocket. At a sticker price of $90 million, the Heavy is a relative bargain. NASA's bigger and more powerful SLS is expected to exceed $1 billion a flight.
Musk upped the ante by putting his Tesla atop this first Heavy; he's been warning for months the rocket might not make it higher than the launch tower.
If the flight succeeds, it will be the first true automobile hurled into space. It's destined for a perpetual orbit around the sun that will swing out as far as Mars. The car's soundtrack will be playing David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
"It is a catchy way to get attention," said Stern while driving his blue Tesla Model S in Boulder, Colorado, last week.
Musk already is looking ahead to an even bigger SpaceX rocket that would phase out both the Falcon 9 and Heavy.
CAYCE, S.C. — Federal investigators are trying to figure out why a switch was in the wrong position, sending an Amtrak train into a freight train and killing a conductor and an engineer in South Carolina.
But they already know what could have prevented the wreck that injured more than 100 passengers — a GPS-based system called "positive train control" that knows the location of all trains and the positions of all switches in an area to prevent the kind of human error that can put two trains on the same track.
"It could have avoided this accident. That's what it's designed to do," said National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt, referring to technology that regulators have been demanding for decades with mixed success.
He said the passenger train hurtled down a side track near Cayce around 2:45 a.m. Sunday after a stop 10 miles north in Columbia because a switch was locked in place, diverting it from the main line. A crew on the freight train had moved the switch to drive it from one side track — where it unloaded 34 train cars of automobiles — to the side track where it was parked. The switch was padlocked as it was supposed to be, Sumwalt said.
The system that operates the train signals in the area was down, so CSX Corp. — the freight railroad operator which runs that stretch of track — was manually operating the signals. Sumwalt said it was too early to know if the signal was red to warn the Amtrak crew that the switch was not set to continue along the main train line.
Just hours after Sunday's crash, which also sent 116 of the 147 people on board the New York-to-Miami train to the hospital, Amtrak President Robert Anderson deferred to investigators about whether the system would have stopped this crash. "Theoretically, an operative PTC system would include switches in addition to signals, so it would cover both speed and switches," Anderson said.
The Silver Star was going an estimated 59 mph when it struck the freight train, Gov. Henry McMaster said. It was the middle of the night, and many people were jolted from sleep by the crash and forced into the cold.
"I thought that I was dead," said passenger Eric Larkin, of Pamlico County, North Carolina, who was dazed and limping after banging his knee.
Larkin said he was on his way to Florida when he was awakened. The train was shaking and jumping, and his seat broke loose, slamming him into the row in front of him, he said.
He said he heard screams and crying all around him as he tried to get out. Other passengers were bleeding.
The locomotives of both trains were left crumpled, the Amtrak engine on its side. One car in the middle of the Amtrak train was snapped in half, forming a V off to one side of the tracks.
Engineer Michael Kempf, 54, of Savannah, Georgia, and conductor Michael Cella, 36, of Orange Park, Florida, were killed, Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher said.
"Any time you have anything that happens like that, you expect more fatalities. But God blessed us, and we only had the two," Fisher said, her voice choked with emotion.
Of the 116 people taken to four hospitals, only about a half dozen were admitted. The rest had minor injuries such as cuts, bruises or whiplash, authorities said.
On Wednesday, a chartered Amtrak train carrying Republican members of Congress to a retreat slammed into a garbage truck in rural Virginia, killing one person in the truck and injuring six others.
And on Dec. 18, an Amtrak train ran off the rails along a curve during its inaugural run near Tacoma, Washington, killing three people and injuring dozens. It was going nearly 80 mph (128 kph), more than twice the speed limit.
With the recent string of crashes, "it's becoming almost like an epidemic for Amtrak," said Najmedin Meshkati, a University of Southern California engineering professor who has studied positive train control.