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Planet Money Goes To Space

Dec 1, 2017

(CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION ON THE PLANET MONEY MISSION PATCH)

Space is easier to get to than ever and it will change life on earth. Private companies are pouring billions of dollars into tiny satellites, new rockets, and gathering information on earth from above. To see how it all works, we are getting in on the action ourselves.

We adopt an adorable satellite, go rocket shopping, and try to figure out how to turn our little piece of the new space race into a profit.

The power grid in South Australia now includes a huge Tesla battery tied to a wind farm, allowing the system to supply electricity around the clock. The battery was installed well before Tesla CEO Elon Musk's 100-day guarantee lapsed — and just in time for the start of summer.

"This is history in the making," South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill said of the battery system, which sits next to wind turbines at the Horndale Power Reserve.

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A coming wave of job automation could force between 400 million and 800 million people worldwide out of a job in the next 13 years, according to a new study.

A report released this week from the research arm of the consulting firm McKinsey & Company forecasts scenarios in which 3 percent to 14 percent of workers around the world — in 75 million to 375 million jobs — will have to acquire new skills and switch occupations by 2030.

Remember the story about the Twitter employee who (briefly) managed to delete President Trump's account?

At the time, we speculated that it might be "an act of civil disobedience, or maybe just a 'take this job and shove it' moment." But apparently the 11-minute outage of @realDonaldTrump was just a mistake.

Donald Trump's campaign was frenzied and frantic, people at the top have said — descriptions that could be highly consequential for the White House and to Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller.

For former campaign officials who've come into the administration, the descriptions of their work last year are meant not only to strengthen their denials regarding collusion with the Russian government in attacking the election, but also to emphasize how much of a miracle it was they made it through.

In the political world, conservatives often accuse liberals of being soft on crime. At the U.S. court, that's not how it goes. Case in point, at the high court on Wednesday, a majority of the justices across ideological lines indicated they may be willing to impose new limits on the government's ability to gain access to large amounts of information retained by private companies in the digital age.

Arkansas prosecutors have dropped their case against James Bates, whom they had charged with first-degree murder partly with the help of evidence collected by an Amazon Echo smart speaker. On Wednesday, a circuit court judge granted their request to have the charges of murder and tampering with evidence dismissed.

The prosecutors declared nolle prosequi, stating that the evidence could support more than one reasonable explanation.

Updated at 7:20 p.m. ET

A glitch in American Airlines' pilot scheduling system means that thousands of flights during the holiday season currently do not have pilots assigned to fly them.

The shortage was caused by an error in the system pilots use to bid for time off, the Allied Pilots Association told NPR. The union represents the airline's 15,000 pilots.

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