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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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Maddow reveals how one state stood up to Trump’s USPS cuts — and won

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MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow's opening segment on Friday focused on a positive story of political pressure stopping one of the Trump administration's attacks on the U.S. Postal Service.

Maddow reported how NBC Montana reporter Maritsa Georgiou had doggedly reported on the removal of postal boxes in Missoula, where she is based. Missoula has been a long-time Democratic Party stronghold.

Montana has a competitive U.S. Senate election in 2020, with Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock challenging first-term Republican Sen. Steve Daines.

As Georgiou chased the story, she learned there were also plans to remove boxes in the battleground of Billings. And more planned for the blue town of Bozeman. And other towns.

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Chad Wolf’s authority is ‘illegitimate’: Hispanic Caucus chairman demands DHS chief ‘resign in disgrace’

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Immigrant rights groups and Texas Democrats are urging a review on the legality of Trump administration immigration policies after a government watchdog found two of the White House’s top immigration officials are not legally eligible to serve in their respective positions.

The Government Accountability Office on Friday determined that Chad Wolf, acting Department of Homeland Security secretary, and Ken Cuccinelli, a senior official performing deputy secretary duties, aren’t legally qualified to hold those posts.

United We Dream, an advocacy group pushing for immigration reform, said the GAO’s conclusion calls into question the latest guidance from the DHS on the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program that was initiated in 2012.

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2020 Election

Lots of red hats — but not many COVID masks — at Bedminster ‘Cops for Trump’ event with the president

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Enhanced unemployment benefits have expired and there is still no deal on the next COVID-19 stimulus package, but the president of the United States left Washington, DC on Friday for yet another weekend at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster.

"This weekend’s trip to Trump National Bedminster is the president’s 23rd since taking office, and will increase his golf-related taxpayer tab to $142 million in travel and security expenses," HuffPost White House corresponded S.V. Dáte reported Friday. "Trump has already spent 268 days on golf courses that he owns in his 1,303 days in office, of which 85 have been at Bedminster."

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