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Starliner takes flight. Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Boeing's uncrewed CST-100 Starliner will not make it to the International Space Station after a serious, post-launch malfunction on Friday.

Why it matters: Boeing was initially expected to launch its first crewed mission to the station in early 2020, but Friday's technical issues may call that already nebulous timeline into question.

Details: Starliner took flight at 6:36 a.m. ET atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral.

  • According to Boeing, the malfunction occurred in an automated clock designed to keep the spacecraft on track while in space.
  • The clock problem put the mission in limbo, forcing Starliner to burn more fuel than expected and precluding a docking with the station.
  • Boeing added that the spacecraft is now in a stable configuration and will be able to come back down to Earth, landing in New Mexico on Sunday at the earliest.

Between the lines: According to NASA, if astronauts were onboard during this flight, they may have been able to salvage the mission and make it to the space station.

  • "We train extensively for this type of contingency, and had we been on board there could have been actions that we could have taken," NASA astronaut Nicole Mann said during a press conference.

The big picture: NASA has contracts with Boeing and SpaceX to fly astronauts to the space station in order to end the space agency's dependence on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft for flights to orbit.

  • Development of these systems has been long-delayed by budget shortfalls and technical issues.

What's next: It's not yet clear what this failure will mean for Boeing's program at large.

  • According to NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, it's still too early to tell if the company will be expected to launch another uncrewed test flight ahead of a crewed launch.

Editor's note: This story was updated with new information from a post-launch press conference with NASA and Boeing officials.

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Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg and Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan raised normalization with Israel during his recent meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, three U.S. and Arab sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Saudi Arabia would be the biggest regional player to sign onto the "Abraham Accords" peace agreement with Israel, and such a major breakthrough would likely convince other Arab and Muslim countries to follow suit.

Tech's leaky world

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Tech companies are learning what everyone in Washington already knows: Leaks of confidential info are inevitable, and "plumbing" operations to close them rarely work.

Why it matters: Most tech firms talk up the power of transparency but prefer to keep details of their operations secret from competitors and the public. Researchers, regulators and the media are increasingly relying on information provided by dissident employees and whistleblowers to see inside companies' workings.

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First look: Harris wants more union membership in fed workforce

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at a virtual town hall with Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) on Oct. 14. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will today announce new guidelines to encourage federal workers to join unions, according to a White House official.

Why it matters: The Biden administration wants to bolster the collective bargaining power of workers across the country – and they are starting at home, with changes in the federal workforce.