Following is a summary of current science news briefs.
Two-thirds of U.S. birds face extinction due to climate-linked 'emergency': Audubon
Two-thirds of bird species in North America, already disappearing at an alarming rate, face extinction unless immediate action is taken to slow the rate of climate change, the National Audubon Society said on Thursday. "We are in the midst of a bird emergency," Audubon's Chief Executive David Yarnold said at a news briefing. "This is as much about the future that we face and our children face as the birds face."
Tiny walking rover bound for the moon
A lunar rover which will explore the moon on foot in 2021 was unveiled in London on Thursday. The new concept, with four legs rather than wheels, will send data back to a larger mothership, which will transmit it back to Earth.
NASA aims for first manned SpaceX mission in first-quarter 2020
SpaceX's new Crew Dragon astronaut capsule will be ready for its first manned flight into orbit in the first quarter of next year provided "everything goes according to plan" in upcoming tests, NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said on Thursday. The pronouncement of a revised time frame signaled NASA believes SpaceX is getting the Crew Dragon project back on track following an explosion during a ground test in April and technical challenges with its re-entry parachute system.
Space firm founded by billionaire Paul Allen sold to new owner
Stratolaunch Systems Corp, the space company founded by late billionaire and Microsoft Corp co-founder Paul Allen, said on Friday it was continuing operations after transitioning ownership, but did not name the new owner. The company, a unit of Allen's privately-held investment vehicle Vulcan Inc, had been developing a fleet of launch vehicles, including the world's largest airplane by wingspan, to send satellites and eventually humans into space.
U.S. regulators allow genetically modified cotton as human food source
U.S. regulators on Friday gave the green light for genetically modified cotton to be used for human consumption, paving the way for a protein-packed new food source - edible cottonseed that tastes a bit like chickpeas - that its developers said could help tackle global malnutrition. The Food and Drug Administration's decision on the cotton plant developed by Texas A&M University scientists means it is allowed as food for people and all types of animals.
Alexei Leonov, first human to walk in space, dies at 85
Alexei Leonov, who became the first human to walk in space in 1965, died on Friday at the age of 85 after a long illness, Russia's TASS news agency reported. Though less well known internationally than Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, Leonov was a household name in his native Russia and will be remembered in particular for his role in the 1965 Voskhod-2 mission.