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Photo Illustration: Annelise Capossela. Photos: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Businessman Jared Isaacman is putting his life in SpaceX's hands.

The big picture: Isaacman is leading the first all-civilian mission to space on a chartered flight with SpaceX expected to fly before the end of the year.

  • The new mission — called Inspiration4 — effectively ushers in a new age of private spaceflight that goes beyond government customers and missions.
  • "I'm not nervous at all," Isaacman told me. "I'm immensely confident in SpaceX's technology. I think they're true pioneers, visionaries."

What's happening: Isaacman is giving away one seat on the Crew Dragon to someone who donates to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and another seat to the winner of a contest for entrepreneurs.

  • The fourth seat has been given to a yet-to-be-named St. Jude ambassador who was once treated by the hospital and is now a medical worker.
  • So far, the raffle has generated more than $8 million for the hospital, according to the Inspiration4 website.
  • The mission also aired an ad during the Super Bowl this weekend.

Behind the scenes: This mission came together in just about two months, Isaacman said, adding that he always knew it wouldn't just be "a couple buddies going up in space together," instead opting for a more impactful message.

  • And it's going to be a sprint to launch before the end of the year.
  • Once the final crewmates are announced in about 20 days, they will embark on a rigorous training schedule to get everyone up to speed on what it will take to launch to space and return safely home, even as a passenger.
  • "I'm certainly not asking people who are fortunate enough to get selected as part of this process to give up their day jobs. But we might be asking for a little bit of flexibility from their employers ... to give us a day here or there, but what we're trying to do is a lot of three- and four-day weekends," Isaacman said of the training.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Feb 9, 2021 - Science

The new Mars club

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The newest missions to Mars are about life on Earth as much as they're about science on the Red Planet.

Why it matters: The United Arab Emirates and China, which each have missions arriving at Mars this week, have tied geopolitical and national ambitions to their Martian endeavors.

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.

Fauci: Children "very likely" to get COVID vaccine at start of 2022

NIAID Director Anthony Fauci. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Children under age 12 will "very likely" be able to get vaccinated for coronavirus at the "earliest the end of the year, and very likely the first quarter of 2022," NIAID Director Anthony Fauci told "Meet the Press" Sunday.

Why it matters: Children generally aren't at risk of serious coronavirus infections, but vaccinating them will be key to protecting the adults around them and, eventually, reaching herd immunity, writes Axios' Caitlin Owens.