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SpaceX finishes third ISS run, is poised for manned missions

Commercial spaceflight is starting to become routine. SpaceX's Dragon capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean Sunday, completing the company's third resupply mission to the International Space Station. (Via NASA)

The capsule had been docked at the ISS for nearly a month. It took 2.5 tons of supplies and science experiments to the station and brought 1.7 tons back to Earth. (Via NASA)

The successful mission means SpaceX is now a quarter of the way through its $1.6 billion contract with NASA to haul cargo to the station. But these missions are just a first step for the company, which is poised to play a key role in space in the next few years.

>> Read more trending stories  

Currently, SpaceX and Orbital Sciences are the only American companies to have successfully flown missions to the ISS for NASA. (Via NASA)

But SpaceX is also positioned to win big thanks to recent tensions between Russia and the U.S. The two countries have been trading sanctions over the situation in Ukraine, and that animosity has bled into space exploration. (Via Voice of America)

In early April, NASA cut off all communication with Russia's space agency, with the one exception being cooperation on the ISS. Then, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin​ threatened to cut off even that, saying NASA could try getting its astronauts to the station using a trampoline. Finally, Rogozin banned the sale of Russian engines to U.S. companies for military launches. (Via MashableTwitter / @Rogozin,The Wall Street Journal)

Right now, Russia is the only option for getting U.S. astronauts into space, and now that the relationship has started to sour, there's a renewed push to get private American companies ready to ferry astronauts into low Earth orbit.

A writer for Motherboard says, of the companies competing to be first, "​Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin company has barely tested anything, and both Sierra Nevada Corporation and Boeing's entries into the ISS race are expected to use Atlas V rockets — and their Russian engines."The end result? "SpaceX is about to get paid.​"

Of course, it's not surprising SpaceX would dream big, considering its founder Elon Musk goes around saying things like this.

"We're going all the way to Mars, I think. That's what we..."

"Timeframe?"

​"Best case, 10 years. Worst case, 15-20 years." (Via The Wall Street Journal)

The company is currently aiming to carry out its first manned space mission in 2015.

See more at newsy.com

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  • Almost everywhere I went this weekend and ran into someone I knew, there was one question asked by just about everyone – whether it was at the pool, on the golf course, or grilling burgers in my back yard – “Will the Republicans get their health care bill through the Senate this week?” Let’s take a look at what the GOP has to do to get that bill approved. 1. A test for the Senate Majority Leader.  The hamburgers had barely touched the grill on Sunday evening, when my father – a veteran of many legislative showdowns on Capitol Hill – asked whether I thought the GOP could get the health bill approved in the Senate by the end of the week. My answer is much like where we were with the House bill at the beginning of May – I can see the GOP passing this by the narrowest of margins, and I can also envision the bill getting delayed because of concerns among GOP Senators.  Remember, the House had a couple of false starts before finally mustering a majority for the Republican health plan. Senate Republicans face key week as more lawmakers waver in support for health-care bill — devcode88 (@devcode88) June 26, 2017 2. President Trump warming in the bullpen.  Just like he did when he cajoled reluctant Republicans in the House to get on board with a GOP health care plan, the White House has already had the President reaching out to GOP conservatives who aren’t quite sure they really want to vote for this overhaul of the Obama health law. Over the weekend, the President again made clear – that despite concerns over individual provisions in the bill, and how it might change health insurance options in the individual market – this is better than the current Obamacare situation. Expect to hear that argument a lot more this week from the White House. I cannot imagine that these very fine Republican Senators would allow the American people to suffer a broken ObamaCare any longer! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2017 3. There really is no role for Democrats. Just like in 2009 and 2010 as the Obama health law made its way through the House and Senate – when Republicans did not have the votes to leave their imprint on the bill – Democrats are simply on the sidelines, as they lob verbal grenades at the GOP on an hourly basis. It’s important to remember this week that Republicans have almost no margin for error, as just three GOP Senators could tip the balance of this debate if they refuse to back the Republican health bill. All Democrats can do is watch from the sidelines, and hope they have an impact. We got the Senate bill text on Thursday. This bill would overhaul our entire health care system but the GOP wants to vote next Thursday! — Dick Durbin (@DickDurbin) June 25, 2017 4. Have you read the bill? Why not? The GOP health bill is just 142 pages long – but even if you sit down to read it, I guarantee that most of you won’t be able to figure out what it says. Why? Well, that’s because it is basically an amendment to the underlying Obama health law, and if you don’t have that language on hand, you won’t really know what the Republicans are trying to change, and how. The original Affordable Care Act was well over 2,000 pages long – and the reason that this GOP bill is so short is simple – it just amends the Obama health law – this is not “repeal and replace” by any measure. Because it leaves most of Obamacare in place. https://t.co/8lnG9385JU — Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) June 25, 2017 5. The GOP Senators who might vote ‘No.’ If I had to list a group of Republicans to watch, my morning line would look this way: I WILL SAY THIS SENATOR IS OPPOSED TO THE BILL 1) Rand Paul – most likely to vote “No” at this point 2) Dean Heller – Nevada Senator said on Friday that there must be changes POSSIBLE NO VOTE 3) Mike Lee – said this weekend he thinks the bill doesn’t significantly reform health care. But I still wonder if he gets to “Yes” with some late changes. 4) Susan Collins – CBO report is important, plus Planned Parenthood. Still not sure she votes “No.” 5) Lisa Murkowski – Planned Parenthood & bill details important. Important one to watch. CONSERVATIVES ON THE FENCE 6) Ted Cruz – Yes, I know Cruz has said he has concerns. So did the Freedom Caucus in the House, but most of them ended up voting for the bill. 7) Ron Johnson – Same thought for the Wisconsin Republican as Cruz. Can’t see either of them being the 51st vote against the bill. 8) Bill Cassidy – No matter what he said to Jimmy Kimmel, I still think it is unlikely that Cassidy votes against the Senate bill. But we’ll see. Latest whip count on #SenateHealthCareBill: 45 yea 55 nay @GOP opposed: Paul, Cruz, Lee, Heller, Johnson, Cassidy, Collins. — KOMO Newsradio (@komonewsradio) June 25, 2017 Clearly, the GOP leadership – and the White House – has some legislative arm twisting to do in coming days. If this plan stays on track, it could well be voted through on Thursday or Friday.  And if that happens, I wouldn’t rule out the GOP thinking about bringing it right to the floor of the House for a final vote. But we’ll see if we actually get that far.  Stay tuned.  It will be a very interesting week in the halls of Congress.  
  • If you have outdoor plans for today, there will be no need to keep your eyes on the sky. National Weather Service Meteorologist Mark Plate says conditions will remain pleasant throughout the day in the Tulsa area. “It should still be a pretty nice day,” Plate said.  “Partly cloud skies, with the high temperature in the upper 80s.  Relatively low humidity values and light winds.” The low Sunday night will be around 63 degrees. We’ll see more of the same to start the work week.  NWS reports sunny skies though Wednesday and highs will remain in the upper 80s.  
  • If you’re carrying trafficking amounts of drugs, it’s probably not a good idea to drive through a police barricade.   Rufus Newsome learned that lesson the hard way Saturday night, when he reportedly drove through a barricade at the Tulsa officer-involved shooting scene.  This happened around 9:35 p.m., near 3rd and Garnett.  Police say Newsome was driving at a high-rate of the speed after passing the barricade and could have hit multiple pedestrians.  Eventually, he stopped and tried his luck on foot.   “Caught the suspect and the suspect resisted by pulling his hands away,” police said.  “As he was in custody, he spit two times on (officer’s name redacted).” Officers recovered a trafficking amount of cocaine base.   Newsome has been booked into the Tulsa County Jail.  
  • A suspect is dead, following an officer-involved shooting Saturday night near 4th and Garnett. Tulsa police report a pursuit stopped in the area and a suspect tried to flee on foot.   KRMG’s told he ran to a home, tried to kick in the door and then reportedly pulled out a gun.  During this time, he was shot by officers.   Neighbors we spoke to were concerned because they weren't sure what had happened. “All of a sudden we heard the gunshots,” a witness said.  “We didn’t know what was going on.” So far, no names have been released. We do know the suspect was said to be riding in a stolen car. KRMG will update the story when more information comes into the newsroom.
  • Responding to concerns about personal security for lawmakers after last week’s gun attack at a Congressional baseball practice, U.S. House leaders are moving to provide extra money to members for protection back home, as well as new funding to bolster the work of police and security officials on Capitol Hill. Under a plan approved by a House spending subcommittee on Friday, the Congress would provide an extra $7.5 million next year to the Capitol Police for an “increased security posture” around the Capitol, along with $5 million to the House Sergeant at Arms to help with security for lawmakers back in their districts. “We are taking a new fresh look at security,” said Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS), the Chairman of subcommittee that deals with funding for the Legislative Branch. Our FY18 Legislative Branch funding bill increases efficiency & transparency in Congress, enhances security for Members & our constituents. pic.twitter.com/FI36tF2XeH — Rep. Kevin Yoder (@RepKevinYoder) June 22, 2017 “The tragic events of June 14 weigh heavily on these deliberations,” said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, which could vote on the extra money as early as this next week. Also being put into motion is a separate plan to funnel an extra $25,000 to each member of the House – about $11 million in all – to help them increase security back in their districts. “The scariest part for us is there used to be this impression by the public that we all had security everywhere we went,” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH). “Now, everyone knows that isn’t the case,” Ryan added, as he lent his support to the extra funding for security as well. The money in this budget bill would not take effect until the new fiscal year – which starts October 1 – so, House leaders are ready to okay extra money immediately for members worried about security back in their districts. Roll Call newspaper reported that could be approved in coming days by the House Administration Committee. Yoder said Congressional leaders are also waiting to see if money raised in campaign contributions for House elections could be put to use for security as well. “Pending an FEC (Federal Election Commission) decision, we’re also looking at whether campaign funds could be used to continue to support security upgrades at personal residences,” Yoder added.