Operation Separates

Woodbridge Twins

* And now they are two.

Twins Erin and Jade Buckles are sleeping in separate beds for the first time, no longer connected as they were for the first four months of their lives.

The babies were separated during a tricky operation over the weekend at Children's Hospital in the District. The Woodbridge girls were born joined at the chest and stomach and shared a liver. During a six-hour operation Saturday, doctors carefully separated the girls, making sure that none of their organs was damaged.

Doctors also were worried that each girl wouldn't have enough skin to cover where they had once been joined. But there was even extra skin, enough to give each baby her own belly button.

Doctors will be watching the twins in the hospital to be sure they recover well. They are hopeful that these girls who had such an unusual start to their lives (only 700 sets of joined twins have been born alive) will grow up and play hide-and-seek, sleep in bunk beds and share secrets.

Just like normal sisters.

Private Rocket Flight

Is Out of This World

* A rocket plane called SpaceShipOne became the first spacecraft not paid for by a government to blast into space.

The ship was carried on a strange-looking plane, then was propelled at three times the speed of sound about 62 miles above Earth, just outside the planet's atmosphere. It stayed there for 31/2 minutes before gliding back to the ground, using specially designed wings that spread out like feathers to slow it down. It landed in the California desert.

For more info and pictures, see Page A1.

Melissa Buckles holds twins Jade and Erin earlier this month.