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SpaceX test fires rocket ahead of ISS cargo launch

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WASHINGTON — SpaceX on Monday successfully test-fired its Falcon 9 rocket in a dress rehearsal for the May 7 launch of its Dragon spacecraft on a cargo-bearing mission to the International Space Station.

The test, known as a static fire of the rocket’s nine main engines, lasted just two seconds, but allowed engineers to “run through all countdown processes as though it were launch day,” SpaceX said on its website.

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The test-fire took place at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, after a brief delay due to a problem with one of the flight computers, which had set an improper limit for the rocket firing.

The glitch was fixed within about an hour and the countdown resumed.

“Success — two second burn!” SpaceX tweeted after the test-fire sent billowing white smoke into the air around the gleaming white rocket.

“Engineers will now review data as we continue to prepare for the upcoming mission.”

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SpaceX aims to be the first private company to send its own spacecraft to the orbiting research lab, a capacity that only Russia, Japan and Europe can currently handle since the US shuttle program ended last year.

The Dragon spacecraft has also been built to carry humans to space, and the company, owned by Internet entrepreneur and PayPal co-founder Elon Musk, hopes that a successful cargo trip to the ISS will soon lead to a manned mission.

“Woohoo, rocket hold down firing completed and all looks good!!” Musk tweeted after the test.

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On May 7, the gumdrop-shaped Dragon capsule will carry 1,149 pounds (521 kilograms) of cargo for the space lab and will also aim to return a 1,455-pound load to Earth, NASA has said.

The launch is scheduled for 9:38 am (1338 GMT).

SpaceX made history with its Dragon launch in December 2010, becoming the first commercial outfit to send a spacecraft into orbit and back.

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SpaceX and several other companies are competing to be the first to operate a private capsule that could tote astronauts and cargo to the ISS.

Russia’s Soyuz capsule is currently the world’s sole means of transporting both astronauts and cargo to the orbiting space station.

Other companies in the private space race include aerospace giant Boeing, the Nevada-based Sierra Nevada Corporation and Washington state-based BlueOrigin LLC.

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NASA has channeled $270 million to firms hoping to join the new commercial space race and hopes to foster a billion-dollar industry over the next decade.


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Retiring Republican lawmaker blames Trump’s ‘petty, childish bullsh*t’ for massive GOP exodus

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In an examination of the record-breaking number of Republican lawmakers who have decided to quit or retire despite holding a seat in solidly conservative congressional districts, one lawmaker admitted that he grew weary of having to deal with Donald Trump's daily Twitter habit and other shenanigans -- so he is calling it quits.

As the Washington Post reports, "Since Trump’s inauguration, a Washington Post analysis shows that nearly 40 percent of the 241 Republicans who were in office in January 2017 are gone or leaving because of election losses, retirements including former House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis)."

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Internet rains hell on ‘fake Christian’ Karen Pence’s new Twitter account: ‘I can’t wait for the rapture’

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The Internet reacted with scorn over the weekend after Second Lady Karen Pence announced a new Twitter account aimed at reelecting President Donald Trump.

In her first tweet, Pence posted a video lavishing praise on the president.

"There are probably a lot of things you don't know about me," Pence says in the video. "For example, I enjoy painting, I love to ride my bike and I like nothing better than reading a good book. On my new Twitter account, I will share what I'm up to when I'm not in the office at the White House."

Excited to start a new #Twitter account to help tell the story of all the accomplishments under the leadership of @realDonaldTrump and @mike_pence! Follow along to KEEP AMERICA GREAT! 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/RaPwC5ThyR

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WATCH: Trump admits he talked to Ukraine president about Joe Biden and his son

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President Donald Trump Sunday morning admitted he brought up Joe Biden and the former Vice President’s son Hunter Biden while speaking with the President of Ukraine.

“The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, with largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place and largely the fact that we don’t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the corruption,” Trump said, speaking to reporters from the White House lawn.

Watch:

BREAKING: President Trump admits that he talked to the Ukrainian president about former Vice President Biden. #MTP #IfItsSunday@kristenwelker: "From the president's perspective, the only way to put this story to bed is to release the transcript." pic.twitter.com/aaJ6DjMN0E

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