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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.

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

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

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Psychoanalyst Justin Frank on why Trump ‘hates reality’ and must be ‘quarantined’

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Donald Trump is a living, breathing national emergency. Our president has repeatedly encouraged violence against his perceived enemies — and at least some of his supporters are following his lead. These are not isolated incidents. There are dozens of court cases where Donald Trump has been cited for "inspiring" acts of violence and other crimes. There are also the most odious examples such as the recent white supremacist terror attack in El Paso in which the alleged mass murderer wrote an online "manifesto" that almost verbatim channeled Trump's threatening rhetoric towards nonwhite people.

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Like a fox — how a TV news channel is tearing America apart

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A little over 20 years ago, Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes concocted a profitable way to tap into the white supremacist ideology still bubbling below America’s surface.

They started a “news” network that, instead of providing actual news, gave white, conservative viewers the news they wanted to hear: that they, their families, and their values were under attack by minorities, gays, women, liberals, socialists, Muslims, atheists, the media, etc. — and therefore their biases were justified.

It’s been a lucrative strategy. However, just making a buck wasn’t enough for them. They also wanted to shape the fortunes of the country they were dividing. Here, too, they had tremendous success.

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Is Trump’s love affair with Fox News fading?

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Last month after Donald Trump watched Fox News lob what he called "softball questions" at a Democratic lawmaker, the US president delivered a crisp smackdown of his favorite network: "Fox sure ain't what it used to be."

After years of often fawning coverage by Fox, particularly from its pro-Trump anchors like Sean Hannity, the commander in chief appears to be tilting his media gaze toward a younger, more right-wing rival, cable outfit One America News Network (OANN).

The small upstart broadcaster was launched only recently, in 2013, by technology millionaire Robert Herring, who sought a more conservative alternative to mainstream media behemoths like CNN.

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