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Air Force says rocket accident won’t bump SpaceX from satellite competition

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SpaceX can compete to launch a U.S. Global Positioning System satellite despite a Falcon 9 rocket accident this weekend, the Air Force said on Wednesday.

“SpaceX remains certified and can compete for the upcoming GPS III launch service,” Lt. General Samuel Greaves, who heads the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, wrote in an email to Reuters.

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The Air Force plans to release a solicitation for launch service proposals this month, the first time SpaceX, which is owned and operated by technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, will be eligible to compete against United Launch Alliance (ULA). The joint-venture of Lockheed-Martin and Boeing has had a monopoly on the military’s launch business.

In May, SpaceX won a hard-fought, two-year battle to have its Falcon 9 rocket certified to fly military and national security satellites. On Sunday, one of those rockets exploded after liftoff.

The cause of the accident, which claimed a cargo ship heading to the International Space Station for NASA and was the first Falcon 9 launch failure in 19 flights, is under investigation.

While not directly involved in the mission, the Air Force said it has been invited to observe the accident investigation and has offered support.

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SpaceX is leading the investigation, with support from NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees commercial space launches in the United States.

Preliminary analysis indicates a problem with the liquid oxygen system of the rocket’s upper-stage engine.

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told reporters after the accident that Falcon 9 launches would be suspended “a number of months, or so” pending the results of the investigation.

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“We are working with our partners to prepare for potential delays on the order of a few months,” SpaceX wrote in an email to Reuters.

The rocket that blew up on Sunday was the third cargo ship lost in the past eight months. In October, an Orbital ATK Antares rocket exploded seconds after liftoff from Virginia. Orbital is buying new engines for the rocket and expects to return to flight next year.

In April, a Russian Progress capsule failed to separate properly from its Soyuz launcher, dooming the ship. Russia hopes to break the string of launch failures with liftoff of another Soyuz rocket and Progress capsule at 12:55 a.m. EDT/0455 GMT on Friday.

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(Reporting by Irene Klotz and Andrea Shalal Editing by Christian Plumb)


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‘Belligerent from the get-go’: Dem senator gives blow-by-blow account of Trump’s meltdown on Pelosi

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Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) gave a detailed account of the emotional meltdown that President Donald Trump had with congressional Democrats at the White House on Wednesday.

Appearing on CNN Thursday morning, Menendez broke down how Trump started raging at Democrats from the second he entered the room.

"The meeting started off with the president walking in and slamming down his files on the table," Menendez said. "It was belligerent from the get-go... you have the president of the United States, who is supposed to bring our country together, particularly in times of challenges, [calling] the Speaker a third-rate politician."

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MSNBC conservative goes down in flames trying to separate Trump’s incompetence from his corruption

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MSNBC conservative Noah Rothman met furious pushback when he dismissed poll numbers as insignificant showing a growing majority of Americans support the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

The "Morning Joe" contributor argued that those numbers reflected the president's approval rating and would not exert any pressure on congressional Republicans, but instead place greater pressure on Democrats to make their case for impeachment.

"It's incumbent on Democrats to make this case," Rothman said. "Right now they are presenting a united front because it's still primary season. Once we get into the general (election campaign) there will be more pressure on them to explain their position, but it's incumbent on Democrats to make the case."

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The Trump murder video is no joke: It’s an encouragement to ramp up the violence

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Donald Trump is not a “friendly fascist.” Unlike Ronald Reagan, the prototype for that concept, Trump does not pretend to be harmless. He does not offer up fake smiles and a cheerful nature, or display empathy and human concern for others, feigned or otherwise.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Donald Trump is direct, obvious and public in his threats against democracy, the Constitution and the rule of law. Trump and his movement are working to destroy America’s multiracial democracy through appeals to a mythic past that will “Make America Great Again.” In practice this means undoing all the social progress and democratic reforms of the last century or more and returning to a society where white people — rich white male Christians, in particular — are fully in control over all aspects of American society for all time.

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