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Elon Musk’s SpaceX breaks Boeing-Lockheed monopoly on military space launches

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The U.S. Air Force on Wednesday awarded billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX an $83 million contract to launch a GPS satellite, breaking the monopoly that Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co have held on military space launches for more than a decade.

The Global Positioning System satellite will be launched in May 2018 from Florida, Air Force officials said.

The fixed-price award is the military’s first competitively sourced launch service contract in more than a decade. It ends the exclusive relationship between the military and United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

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ULA did not compete for the GPS launch contract, citing accounting issues, implications of trade sanctions limiting imports of its rockets’ Russian-made engines and, according to a former ULA vice president, SpaceX’s cut-rate pricing.

“This GPS III Launch Services contract award achieves a balance between mission success, meeting operational needs, lowering launch costs, and reintroducing competition for National Security Space missions,” Lieutenant General Samuel Greaves, who heads the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, said in a statement.

Between now and 2018, the Air Force plans to solicit bids for contracts covering eight more satellite launches.

ULA did not immediately respond to a request for comment about bidding on future launch contracts.

The $82.7 million fixed-price contract awarded to Space Exploration Technologies, as the company is officially known, covers production of a Falcon 9 rocket, spacecraft integration, launch operations and spaceflight certification.

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Musk, a billionaire entrepreneur who helped found Tesla Motors Inc and PayPal Holdings Inc , started SpaceX in 2002 with the goal of slashing launch costs to make Mars travel affordable.

SpaceX also said on Wednesday it plans to send an unmanned Dragon spacecraft to Mars as early as 2018, a first step in achieving Musk’s goal to fly people to another planet.

SpaceX holds more than $10 billion worth of launch service contracts for NASA and commercial customers. The company recently made spaceflight history by returning Falcon 9 rockets to landing pads on land and sea – a key step in Musk’s ongoing quest to develop a relatively inexpensive, reusable launch vehicle.

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SpaceX declined to comment about its first military launch contract until after an Air Force conference call with reporters on Thursday.

(Reporting by Irene Klotz in Cape Canaveral, Fla.; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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Andrew Cuomo threatens to bail on CNN interview when his brother shows vintage photo of governor in bellbottoms

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) appeared to feign anger during a CNN interview Wednesday in which his brother, Christopher Cuomo, showed a vintage photo of their family with the elder brother clad in bellbottoms, a rhinestone belt and an unfortunate attempt at an afro.

The younger Cuomo is still suffering from the effects of coronavirus, appearing redfaced and wiping his brow. However, his brother noted that he seemed more animated than he has in days.

"Now I've seen you referred to a little bit recently as the 'Love Gov' and I'm wondering if that's making you a little soft on the president, that you don't want to really criticize him, because you need him and now's not a time for fighting," said the younger Cuomo. "But don't you have to balance that with calling him out if he's doing things that you don't think are great for the people of your state to be hearing and experiencing? Love Gov?"

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Fox News hosts are going back to downplaying threat from coronavirus: report

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Major Fox News personalities like Sean Hannity spent weeks assuring viewers that the novel coronavirus wasn't a serious threat. In recent weeks, however, they have shifted to a different narrative, acknowledging that the virus is dangerous but giving President Donald Trump credit for taking action and criticizing Democrats' lack of action — even though many Democrats, in fact, warned the pubic first.

But according to The Daily Beast, even as there is no clear end to the crisis in sight, and even as the U.S. crosses 13,000 deaths, many Fox News hosts are going back to downplaying the virus, either telling viewers it wasn't as bad as advertised and urging the president to end public safety measures against it.

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The dangers of Trump TV: MSNBC host hammers Fox News as ‘genuine public health threat’ amid pandemic

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Tuesday night, Fox News decided that all anyone needed to do is to pump Americans with a Malaria drug and send them back to work to save President Donald Trump's economy.

Speaking Wednesday night, MSNBC host Chris Hayes bashed the conservative network for downplaying the seriousness of coronavirus, saying that they are "a genuine public health threat."

While Trump has advisers like Dr. Anthony Fauci, he also has the unofficial advisers he sees on Fox News.

They "are coalescing around the idea the whole thing is just overblown and we need to pump everyone full of the malaria drug and get them back to work. This is what you heard if you watch trump tv just last night," Hayes said. He then played clips illustrating exactly that, with hosts ranting and raving about the virus not being as serious as the flu.

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