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Hurricane might delay SpaceX-NASA return trip from ISS

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The first US astronauts to reach the International Space Station on an American spacecraft in nearly a decade might not come home this weekend as scheduled because of Hurricane Isaias, NASA said Friday.

Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley blasted off from Cape Canaveral on May 30 on board a SpaceX Crew Dragon, and are supposed to splash down off the coast of Florida on Sunday afternoon.

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For now, undocking remains scheduled for approximately 7:34 pm (2334 GMT) Saturday, and splashdown at 2:42 pm (1842 GMT) on Sunday.

But NASA said it was keeping a watchful eye on Hurricane Isaias — a category one storm that battered the Bahamas Friday and was churning toward Florida — and would make a final call about six hours prior to undocking.

“We don’t control the weather, and we know we can stay up here longer –- there’s more chow, and I know the space station program has more work that we can do,” Behnken told reporters in a press call.

The potential splashdown sites are in the Gulf of Mexico and along Florida’s Atlantic coast.

The mission marked the first time a crewed spaceship launched into orbit from American soil since 2011 when the Space Shuttle program ended.

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It was also the first time a private company has flown to the ISS carrying astronauts.

The US has paid SpaceX and aerospace giant Boeing a total of about $7 billion for their “space taxi” contracts.

But Boeing’s program has floundered badly after a failed test run late last year, which left SpaceX, a company founded only in 2002, as clear frontrunner.

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For the past nine years, American astronauts traveled exclusively on Russian rockets Soyuz rockets, for a price of around $80 million per seat.

The crewmates added they were looking forward to going home after two months, if the return trip went ahead Sunday as planned.

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“My son is six years old and I can tell from the videos that I get and from talking to him on the phone that he’s changed a lot,” said Behnken.


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2020 Election

If Trump loses two more states it’s ‘ballgame over’: AP reporter

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Appearing on MSNBC's " Morning Joe," Associated Press White House correspondent Jonathan Lemire explained Donald Trump's chances of being re-elected have reached the point where, if he loses the electoral votes of one more, he will be out of luck and out of office.

Speaking with co-host Joe Scarborough, Lemire was asked where Trump stands in the battleground states he so desperately needs.

"Both campaigns agree that there are six battleground states to decide this election: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, North Carolina, Florida," he began. "Now the president has to play defense and has had to spend resources and had to go the past week to places like Ohio, Texas -- Georgia is another one where he has to play defense. We don't see, outside of perhaps New Hampshire, a place where Democrats have to do the same now that the Trump campaign has ceded Michigan."

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Trump’s executive orders are confusing and unconstitutional — and likely to hurt his own voters. He doesn’t care.

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As we went into the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had washed his hands of the negotiations over the vitally necessary COVID-19 relief package, leaving Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and former Tea Party zealot turned White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to try to hash out a deal. Word was that the Democrats had come down from their demand for $3 trillion in various relief programs to $2 trillion, while the White House stuck to its offer of $1 trillion and not a penny more. By Friday, the Senate was going home and the talks had irretrievably stalled.
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Trump administration says US would share COVID vaccine with world after America’s needs are met

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On Monday, Fox News reported that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is offering to share any potential COVID-19 vaccine with other countries, after it stabilizes public health in the United States.

"The U.S. will share any coronavirus vaccine it develops with the globe after American needs are met, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Monday during a visit to Taiwan," reported Evie Fordham.

"Our first priority of course is to develop and produce enough quantity of safe and effective FDA-approved vaccines and therapeutics for use in the United States," said Azar. "But we anticipate having capacity that, once those needs are satisfied, those products would be available in the world community according to fair and equitable distributions that we would consult in the international community on ... After our departure from the WHO, we will work with others in the world community to find the appropriate vehicles for continuing to support, on a multilateral and bilateral basis, global public health on the order that the United States has done in the past."

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