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Moon Express contracts Rocket Lab for launches to land spacecraft on the moon

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Silicon Valley’s Moon Express Inc said it has signed up Lockheed Martin-backed Rocket Lab to launch its robotic spacecraft as it seeks to become the first private venture to reach the moon.

The deal increases its chances of winning a $30 million Google Inc prize for the first privately funded lunar landing. Moon Express was awarded $1 million by Google this year as the only team shooting for the moon to flight test a prototype of its lander.

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Under the launch services contract, Rocket Lab, which was founded in New Zealand but is now headquartered in Los Angeles, will use its Electron rocket system to launch three missions of Moon Express’ MX-1 lunar lander spacecraft, starting in 2017.

The launches will take place either from New Zealand, where Rocket Lab is building a South Island launch site, or from an American range.

Rocket Lab uses battery-powered rocket engines that are cheaper than traditional engines and are quickly created using 3D printers.

Private companies, including Elon Musk’s Space X and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, are increasingly entering the space business following cuts to funding by U.S. space agency NASA.

(The story was refiled to remove extraneous words in paragraph three)

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(Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Jane Wardell and Edwina Gibbs)


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Matt Gaetz forgot which network he was on: Surprised CNN anchor said ‘I’ve never been called Sean Hannity’

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Rep. Matt Gaetz seemed to confuse cable news networks during a Thursday appearance

Gaetz was interviewed by CNN's Chris Cuomo, who aggressively challenged Gaetz on the facts as the Florida Republican attempted to defend President Donald Trump.

Despite the fact Cuomo's interview was nothing like the puff segments Gaetz is used to on Fox, the congressman seemed confused by the end.

"Congressman, you are always welcome, wherever I am, at nine or eleven, whenever," Cuomo said.

"Thanks Sean," Gaetz replied.

"Did you just call me Sean?" Cuomo asked. "Did you just call me Sean?"

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California lawmaker who chaired Republican Assembly caucus leaving GOP — to become an independent: report

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On Thursday, the Sacramento Bee reported that California Assemblyman Chad Mayes, the former Assembly Minority Leader, is leaving the Republican Party and registering as No Party Preference.

"Instead of focusing on solutions for the big problems that we've got, we focused on winning elections," said Mayes in his announcement. "For me, I'm at the point in my life where I'm done with gamesmanship."

Mayes, a controversial figure who was implicated in an affair with a fellow public official, represents Yucca Valley. He is the second Republican Assemblyman this year to leave the party, after Brian Maienschein of San Diego, who Maienschein of San Diego.

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‘Quantum physics generator’ incident in Ohio results in evacuation — hazmat found no radiation

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Authorities in Columbus, Ohio evacuated dozens of homes after a man called 911 to report being burned by a

"Firefighters say nothing threatening was found in a northwest Columbus garage," WCMH-TV reported. "According to firefighters, a man called and reported that he received ‘RF burns’ while building some sort of ‘quantum physics generator’ in a garage. The man used words like ‘particle accelerator,’ ‘alpha rays,’ and ‘radiation’ while describing how he was burned."

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