SpaceX flight, California wildfires, Mexico's Independence Day: 5 things to know Thursday

·5 min read

SpaceX flight to spend its first full day in space

SpaceX launched four ordinary citizens into orbit Wednesday night without any professional astronauts along for the ride, an unprecedented feat. The crew will spend three days of orbiting the Earth with their first full day being Thursday. It's the first time an all-civilian crew will have orbited the planet. Rather than climbing to the edge of space and returning to land in under an hour as Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin recently did, Inspiration4 will circle the Earth and do so in a higher orbit than the International Space Station. Paying for it all is Jared Isaacman, a 38-year-old billionaire, who is promoting the flight as a fundraising effort for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Joining Isaacman are Hayley Arceneaux, a physician assistant at St. Jude who was treated for bone cancer at the hospital as a child; Chris Sembroski, an aerospace worker and Sian Proctor, an educator and trained pilot.

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SC attorney at the center of a suicide plot, multiple probes, to turn himself in

Alex Murdaugh, a prominent South Carolina lawyer who found the bodies of his wife and son in early June plans to turn himself into police Thursday to face charges in a plot to arrange his own death that ended with the shooter only grazing him in the head, his defense attorneys said. The charges are connected to insurance fraud, lawyer Jim Griffin said. Murdaugh asked a previous client who he was buying drugs from to kill him with a shot to the head on Sept. 4 so his surviving son could collect a $10 million life insurance policy, authorities said. If Murdaugh is arrested Thursday, it would culminate a tumultuous 36 hours which saw Curtis Edward Smith, 61, arrested on assisted suicide, insurance fraud and other charges for firing the shot, then state police open a sixth investigation into him and his family — this time over the death of a housekeeper and nanny who died in his home.

Wildfires keep burning in California, possibly pose threat to sequoia trees

Sequoia National Park will remain closed Thursday as a pair of wildfires get closer to its gigantic trees, some of the largest on Earth. The closure led to the evacuations of all park employees from facilities and nearby housing areas. The Colony and Paradise fires, ignited by lightning strikes last week, covered about 14 square miles in California’s steep Sierra Nevada. The Colony Fire was a threat to Giant Forest, home to more than 2,000 sequoias, but not imminently, said Mark Ruggiero, fire information officer for Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks. The Giant Forest houses more than 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree, which is the largest tree on Earth by volume, according to the National Park Service.

Mexican Independence Day 'signifies a moment of hope'

Sept. 16 is the anniversary of Mexico’s declaration of independence from Spain. The day commemorates when Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo in 1810 made the cry for independence hours after midnight by giving a riveting speech in the town of Dolores and ringing the church bells. The moment, which became known as the "Grito de Dolores," was the start of the 11-year Mexican War of Independence that resulted in Mexico gaining freedom from Spain after being under colonial rule for over 300 years. Every year during the late night of Sept. 15, the president of Mexico stands on the balcony of the National Palace in Mexico City and delivers a speech similar to Hidalgo's and honors those who fought for the country’s independence. The day represents solidarity, perseverance, liberation, freedom and joy, and can be celebrated in a variety of ways even outside of Mexico.

Series finale: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' wraps up an 8-season run

After more than 150 episodes over eight seasons and stints on two networks, the final series finale of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" will air Thursday night (8 p.m. ET/PT, NBC). The cop comedy's pandemic-delayed final season underwent revisions to include storylines on George Floyd's death and protests against police brutality. Terry Crews previously confirmed that four scripts were tossed following "somber talks and very deep conversations" about reorienting the series as other cop shows grappled with racial reckoning. In 2014, while still on Fox, "Brooklyn" won the Golden Globe for Best Television Series in a Musical or Comedy and star Andy Samberg also won the award for Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy. While always low-rated on TV, the show has been a favorite among endangered series on USA TODAY's Save Our Shows poll.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: SpaceX flight, California wildfires, Brooklyn Nine-Nine: 5 things to know Thursday

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