Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The billionaires pouring money into rockets don't appear, at least so far, to be focused entirely on money. Instead, they are turning childhood love of sci-fi into a private space exploration companies. Elon Musk has SpaceX, Richard Branson has Virgin Galactic and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has Stratolaunch.

The big picture: Jeff Bezos is much richer than all of them put together, which means he's been able to worry less than any about profits, shareholders or commercial contracts.

He's also been much more secretive. Bezos rarely talks publicly about Blue Origin, his space company, except to say "it's the most important work I'm doing." Most of the company's development has happened behind the scenes.

  • Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000, when Amazon was still best known for selling books.
  • Today, it has some 1,300 employees split between its Kent, Wash., headquarters and its West Texas launch site.
  • Blue Origin uses reusable rockets designed to both launch and land upright, and plans to focus on both space tourism and commercial payloads.
  • SpaceX is already launching satellites on reusable rockets, while Blue Origin has sent test payloads.

The bottom line: There's a sneaking suspicion among many in the industry that Blue Origin is much further along than it's shared. And, even if not, it has unmatched access to resources that could help it leapfrog the competition.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2:30 p.m. ET: 4,902,692 — Total deaths: 160,394 — Total recoveries: 1,598,624 — Total tests: 59,652,675Map.
  3. Politics: Trump floats executive action even if stimulus deal is reached.
  4. Education: Cuomo says all New York schools can reopen for in-person learning.
  5. Public health: Surgeon general urges flu shots to prevent "double whammy" with coronavirus.
  6. World: Africa records over 1 million coronavirus cases.

General Motors tries to revive incendiary lawsuit vs. Fiat Chrysler

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

General Motors is trying to revive an incendiary lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles with explosive new allegations including bribes paid from secret offshore bank accounts and a union official acting as a double agent between the two automotive giants.

Why it matters: The extraordinary legal battle is occurring amid earth-shaking changes in the global auto industry that threaten to turn both litigants into dinosaurs if they aren't nimble enough to pivot to a future where transportation is a service, cars run on electrons and a robot handles the driving.

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Gov. Cuomo on July 23 in New York City. Photo: Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that all school districts across the state can choose to reopen for in-person learning because it has so far maintained low enough coronavirus transmission rates.

Why it matters: It’s another sign that the state, once the global epicenter of the pandemic, has — at least for now — successfully curbed the spread of the virus even as infections have surged elsewhere around the country.