SpaceX test rocket achieves orbit

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - A multimillionaire's test rocket blasted off on its maiden voyage Friday and reached orbit in a dry run for NASA's push to go commercial.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket achieved Earth orbit nine minutes into the flight as planned, drawing praise from NASA, the White House, and others eager for the company, which is based in Hawthorne, Calif., to start resupplying the International Space Station.

The new rocket carried up a mockup of the company's spacecraft, named Dragon. The goal, which it achieved, was to put the capsule into a 155-mile-high orbit.

NASA hopes to use the Falcon-Dragon combo for hauling cargo and possibly astronauts to the station, once the shuttles retire. The first supply run could come next year.

SpaceX - or Space Exploration Technologies - was founded by Elon Musk, a South African-born entrepreneur who cofounded PayPal. Musk said Friday, "This has really been a fantastic day." - AP

Man convicted in Iran trade case

NEW YORK - A man with a Princeton engineering doctorate whose family sent him millions of dollars from Iran was convicted in federal court Friday of violating the U.S. trade embargo on Iran and operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business.

Mahmoud Reza Banki, 33, dropped his head onto the defense table as his girlfriend sobbed loudly from the courtroom spectator section after the jury returned its verdict.

During the four-week trial, prosecutors alleged that the Tehran-born Banki was a key component of an informal money-transfer business in South Asia known as a hawala. The jury is to return Monday to deliberate on the government's request that Banki be forced to forfeit $3.4 million. - AP

Sotomayor visits childhood home

NEW YORK - Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor returned Friday to the Bronx housing project where she spent part of her childhood, recalling how an unlikely encounter there with Robert F. Kennedy ignited her passion for public service.

The Bronx native fought back tears at the ceremony renaming the Bronxdale Houses after Sotomayor.

In an emotional speech, Sotomayor said she lived in the project during the most formative years of her life. One afternoon in 1958, she looked out of her second-story window and saw a famous face.

"Robert Kennedy was coming to visit our projects," she said, adding that she went to the library to look him up. ". . . I was captivated by his career. Through this chance encounter above the old community center, my interest in public service was awakened."

Friday's ceremony was a far cry from the anonymous existence Sotomayor once knew at the project. Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced her, and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D., N.Y.) stopped by to pay his respects. - AP

Elsewhere:

Laura Bush told ABC's Good Morning America she did not think President Obama should be faulted for the continuing oil-spill crisis. "I think they're doing everything they can," she said Friday. She said it could not be one person's responsibility to solve the crisis.