SpaceShipOne, the privately funded rocket plane designed by Burt Rutan and piloted by Brian Binnie over Mojave, Calif., appeared to have reached an altitude of just over 62 miles to capture a $10 million prize meant to encourage space tourism. To win the Ansari X Prize, the stubby plane, which was launched from a turbojet at about 46,000 feet, had to exceed the altitude twice within a two-week span. It was successful on its first try last week.

The Supreme Court opened its nine-month 2004-2005 term Monday, with scheduled arguments in two appeals cases focused on whether the federal sentencing system - and possibly practices in the states - must be scrapped. At stake is a system set up by Congress in 1987 to make sentencing more fair. In other matters, the justices turned down an appeal from Catholic Charities, which challenged a California law that forces nonprofit organizations to pay for employee contraceptive health insurance benefits. They also let stand a lower-court decision that upheld the registry of 57 million do-not-call numbers as a reasonable governmental attempt to safeguard personal privacy and reduce telemarketing abuse.

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry will follow President Bush into Iowa Tuesday, the day after Bush's scheduled signing of a legislative package in Des Moines that prevents three middle-class tax breaks from expiring Jan. 1 and revives other incentives for businesses.

Scientists, disaster officials, and curious onlookers thronged the vicinity of Mount St. Helens again Monday in anticipation that a volcanic explosion could occur at any moment. "I don't think anyone now thinks this will stop with steam explosions," geologist Willie Scott said Sunday. Depending on the gas content of the magma - or molten rock - and other conditions, it could range from a passive emission to an an explosion that throws up a column of ash, Scott said. Although nothing close to the devastation of the 1980 eruption is expected, most air traffic was prohibited within a 5-mile radius of the mountain in southern Washington State, and crowds were kept at at a distance of about 8.5 miles.

Actress Janet Leigh, who died Sunday in Beverly Hills, Calif., was perhaps best known for her role in the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock thriller, "Psycho." Two years later, she also appeared in the box-office hit "The Manchurian Candidate." In one of her other notable performances, she joined her daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, in "The Fog" in 1980.

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