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Amazon begins hurricane relief airlifts to Bahamas

Amazon says it’s completed the first of two relief flights to the Bahamas, delivering tons of supplies earmarked for the victims of Hurricane Dorian.

The first Amazon Air cargo plane arrived in Nassau on Sept. 16 with about 19,300 items on board, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reported in a tweet. The cargo weight amounted to 72,728 pounds.

“Huge thanks to the teams across Amazon who made this happen,” Bezos wrote.

Amazon and its customers have donated cash and more than 300,000 relief items, with a combined worth of $1 million, to Hurricane Dorian relief efforts in the Bahamas and the United States, the company said today in a posting to its Day One blog. Donated items include personal hygiene products, food, water, clothing, tarps, generators and solar lanterns.

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Elon Musk is willing to rebuild Puerto Rico’s grid

Puerto Rico debris
Puerto Rico National Guard soldiers and volunteers work to clear road debris after Hurricane Maria. (U.S. Army Photo / Spc. Hamiel Irizarry)

A Twitter conversation about beefing up Puerto Rico’s hurricane-hit power grid with solar power and heavy-duty batteries is turning into what may be Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s next grand project.

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Hurricane-watching microsatellites go in orbit

Rocket deployment
A photo taken from a NASA F-18 chase plane shows Orbital ATK’s L-1011 Stargazer jet deploying a Pegasus XL rocket to launch eight CYGNSS satellites. (NASA Photo / Lori Losey)

After several days of delays, a squadron of eight microsatellites was sent into orbit by a rocket launched from a high-flying airplane. Their mission? To study the winds that power the heart of a hurricane.

The launch was originally scheduled for Dec. 12, and then for Dec. 14. Each time, technical glitches forced a postponement. But today, it was all systems go as Orbital ATK’s Lockheed L-1011 Stargazer jet took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Fliroda.

An hour after takeoff, the airplane released a three-stage Pegasus rocket from an altitude of 39,000 feet. The Pegasus fired up its rocket engines and deployed the eight suitcase-sized satellites into low Earth orbit.

“The deployments looked great,” said Southwest Research Institute’s John Scherrer, a project manager for the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System, or CYGNSS. “Right on time.”

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Hurricane Patricia looks scary from space

VIIRS view of Hurricane Patricia
An infrared image from the Suomi NPP satellite’s VIIRS instrument shows the well-defined eye of Hurricane Patricia as of 9:20 GMT Friday. (Credit: NASA / NOAA / CIMSS)

Even the International Space Station’s commander is worried about Hurricane Patricia, the strongest storm ever tracked by the National Hurricane Center.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who is currently heading the station’s crew during his yearlong tour of orbital duty, passed along a picture showing the monstrous whirl of white clouds as it approached Mexico today:

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