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SpaceX launches first US national security space mission

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A SpaceX rocket carrying a U.S. military navigation satellite blasted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on Sunday, marking the space transportation company’s first national security space mission for the United States.

The Falcon 9 rocket carrying a roughly $500 million GPS satellite built by Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 8:51 a.m. local time (1351 GMT). Four previous scheduled launches in the last week, including one on Saturday, were canceled due to weather and technical issues.

The successful launch is a significant victory for billionaire Elon Musk’s privately held rocket company, which has spent years trying to break into the lucrative market for military space launches dominated by Lockheed and Boeing Co (BA.N).

SpaceX sued the U.S. Air Force in 2014 over the military’s award of a multibillion-dollar, non-compete contract for 36 rocket launches to United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Boeing and Lockheed. It dropped the lawsuit in 2015 after the Air Force agreed to open up competition.

The next year, SpaceX won an $83 million Air Force contract to launch the GPS III satellite, which will have a lifespan of 15 years.

The satellite is the first to launch out of 32 in production by Lockheed under contracts worth a combined $12.6 billion for the Air Force GPS III program, according to Lockheed spokesman Chip Eschenfelder.

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The launch was originally scheduled for 2014 but has been hobbled by production delays, the Air Force said.

The next GPS III satellite is due to launch in mid-2019, Eschenfelder said, while subsequent satellites undergo testing in the company’s Colorado processing facility.

Additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson and Gina Cherelus; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Daniel Wallis

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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Iowa Republican backtracks after hinting Kellyanne Conway is leaving the White House

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Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) hinted that Kellyanne Conway may be on her way out of the White House for violating federal law.

The Iowa Republican was asked to comment on findings by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel that Conway had repeatedly violated the Hatch Act by promoting political campaigns during public TV appearances as a senior adviser to President Donald Trump.

"Obviously there has been a commission that has decided that's not appropriate, so she is being removed from that position," Ernst told WHO-TV. "We certainly want to be working towards the good of all Americans. Obviously, she wants to support the president's initiatives. She is an adviser -- or was an adviser -- but she used her position differently."

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We have to prepare for this Trump nightmare scenario as Republican power-grabbers grow bolder

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Polls currently show that all the major Democratic presidential candidates are pulling way ahead of Donald Trump, and while Democrats should take nothing for granted — Trump will run a campaign so nasty it will likely put 2016 to shame — there is at least some reason hope that Americans will turn out in large numbers and that Trump will be soundly defeated in 2020. That victory would be both exciting and an enormous relief, a moment when we all collectively begin to believe that the national nightmare is ending.

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Jon Stewart’s journey from satirist to political advocate is no laughing matter

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When Jon Stewart quit the Daily Show, the satirical news and comedy show he hosted for 16 years until August 2015, he explained to his replacement, Trevor Noah, that he was tired – and angry at the state of politics and political discourse in the US. As Noah reported:

He said ‘I’m leaving because I’m tired.’ And he said, ‘I’m tired of being angry.’ And he said, ’I’m angry all the time. I don’t find any of this funny. I do not know how to make it funny right now, and I don’t think the host of the show, I don’t think the show deserves a host who does not feel that it is funny.‘

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