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In part one of How it Happened: The Next Astronauts, Axios space reporter Miriam Kramer traces how a multi-day orbital mission to space without professional astronauts came together in just a matter of weeks.

  • Kramer takes listeners back to February of 2021, to a press call where SpaceX CEO Elon Musk made a stunning announcement.
  • She brings listeners into her conversations with billionaire benefactor and commander Jared Isaacman to learn how he chartered and designed the mission.
  • She chronicles how the other three crew members were selected — one by raffle, one by contest and one as an ambassador for her employer — and how they felt watching the last crewed launch before their own.

Subscribe to the Axios Space newsletter for more of Miriam Kramer's reporting.

Credits: The Next Astronauts is reported and produced by Miriam Kramer, Amy Pedulla, Naomi Shavin, and Alice Wilder. Dan Bobkoff is Executive Producer. Mixing, sound design, and music supervision by Alex Sugiura. Theme music and original score by Michael Hanf. Fact-checking and research by Jacob Knutson. Alison Snyder is a managing editor at Axios and Sara Kehaulani Goo is Executive Editor. Special thanks to Axios co-founders Mike Allen, Jim VandeHei and Roy Schwartz.

Go deeper

Sep 19, 2021 - Science

Elon Musk pledges $50 million toward Inspiration4 fundraiser for St. Jude

Photo: Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk pledged $50 million to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital hours after the Inspiration4 crew splashed down on Saturday.

Why it matters: The all-civilian spaceflight was created, in part, as a fundraiser for St. Jude to raise $200 million. The mission had received $100 million from billionaire Jared Isaacman, who purchased the flight, and raised an additional $60.2 million before Musk's contribution, according to CNBC.

Federal Reserve scales back expectations for economic recovery as Delta variant weighs

Fed chair Jerome Powell during a congressional hearing last year. (Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Fed downgraded near-term expectations for the economy and the labor market, alongside hotter-than-expected inflation, in new estimates out on Wednesday.

Why it matters: It's the first time those closely-watched estimates reflect impact from the delta variant that's already rattled the labor market. Still, Fed chairman Jerome Powell said enough progress has been made to begin to pull back emergency-era measures that have supported the economy.

Bipartisan police reform negotiations end without deal

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) with Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in the Capitol in May 2021. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Bipartisan talks on reforming police tactics and accountability, prompted by George Floyd's murder in May 2020, have ended without a compromise, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), a key negotiator, said Wednesday.

Why it matters: Lawmakers, led by Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Booker, had been working toward a bipartisan deal for months but things fell apart due to disagreements on qualified immunity and other issues.

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