World Briefs: Nasa gives nod for crewed SpaceX launch

Nasa gives nod for crewed SpaceX launch

WASHINGTON • Nasa has given the green light for this week's launch of two astronauts aboard a SpaceX vessel - the first crewed space flight from US soil in nine years and a crucial step towards ending American dependence on Russian rockets.

Top officials at the US space agency and Mr Elon Musk's company had been meeting since last Thursday at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida for final checks of the Crew Dragon space capsule ahead of its maiden crewed mission on Wednesday.

US astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are scheduled to blast off from Kennedy's historic Launch Pad 39A at 4.33am on Thursday, Singapore time, for the International Space Station, arriving the next day.


Rouhani warns US over Venezuela-bound fuel

DUBAI • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani yesterday warned of retaliatory measures against the United States if Washington caused problems for tankers carrying Iranian fuel to Venezuela, the semi-official news agency Mehr reported.

"If our tankers in the Caribbean or anywhere in the world face trouble caused by the Americans, they (the US) will also be in trouble," Mr Rouhani said.

Five tankers carrying Iranian fuel for petrol-starved Venezuela are approaching the Caribbean, with the first expected to reach the country's waters today, according to Refinitiv Eikon tracking data.

The shipments have caused a diplomatic stand-off between Iran and Venezuela and the US as both nations are under US sanctions.


Public support for Abe's Cabinet slumps: Poll

TOKYO • Public support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet slumped to a near three-year low, a poll by the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper showed yesterday, in a further setback for the Premier after Tokyo's top prosecutor quit last week over gambling.

Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office chief Hiromu Kurokawa, who is seen as close to Mr Abe, resigned last Thursday for gambling during Japan's state of emergency. The resignation dealt a blow to Mr Abe, whose support has waned over his handling of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Mr Abe's approval ratings dropped to 27 per cent from 40 per cent in the prior poll on May 6, according to the survey jointly conducted by the newspaper and the Social Survey Research Centre.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 24, 2020, with the headline 'World Briefs'. Print Edition | Subscribe