Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with the Axios AM and PM newsletters. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to the Axios Closer newsletter for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with the Axios Sports newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Des Moines newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The private space players who will drive NASA's plans for the coming decade are declaring themselves and defining the stakes.

Why it matters: NASA plans to focus on getting people to Mars and the Moon, and its deep space exploration ambitions hinge on the agency being able to successfully hand over major operations in low-Earth orbit to private companies.

  • The space agency hopes companies will build private space stations that its astronauts can use and to continue to buy space on private rockets for launching its satellites and other payloads to orbit and beyond.
  • NASA's "big experiment" right now is to test where these commercial partnerships work, the Planetary Society's Casey Dreier told Axios.

What's happening: Last week, NASA announced it would award multimillion-dollar contracts to three teams of commercial space companies to start designing and building privately operated space stations.

  • Those space stations — to be built by Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman and Nanoracks with partners — are expected to act as hubs where NASA astronauts will be able to live and work after the International Space Station ends.
  • "You see the emergence of the set of players that will be active in a commercialized [low-Earth orbit] future, and then beyond," the Secure World Foundation's Ian Christensen told Axios.
  • NASA has also awarded a contract to SpaceX to build a lander designed to bring humans to the surface of the Moon using its still-in-development Starship as part of the agency's Artemis program, expected to land its first crew by 2025.

Details: The space agency already relies on SpaceX and Northrop Grumman to send cargo to the ISS, and SpaceX is successfully flying astronauts to the station today.

  • But now, the agency is getting more ambitious with these partnerships for its Moon program and space stations, in particular.
  • "Does it work to land science instruments on the Moon?" Dreier said. "Does it work to procure spacesuits? Will it work to make reliable space stations? We don't know the answers to those."

Yes, but: This model of public/private partnership can pose risks for NASA, particularly when it comes to extremely difficult pieces of technology.

  • SpaceX founder Elon Musk raised concern last week that the company could go bankrupt if its gamble on building Starship doesn't play out.
  • For budget reasons, NASA is relying on SpaceX as its sole provider of a human lander to get people to the Moon, even though other companies like Blue Origin bid on the project. The space agency awarded SpaceX $2.9 billion.
  • If somehow that bet doesn't pay off, NASA's plans to get people to the Moon could be called into question or at least delayed, Dreier said.

Go deeper

The most startling facts in 2021 climate report

An unsettling part of the human condition today is that the year you were born will most likely be the coolest year of your life, globally speaking.

By the numbers: Newly released climate data from NOAA, NASA and Berkeley Earth show that the planet has had an unbroken streak of 45 years of warmer than average temperatures.

Updated Jan 15, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Earth's climate went off the rails in 2021, reports show

Temperature departures from average in degrees Celsius during 2021. (Berkeley Earth).

Global warming became local to a new and devastating extent in 2021, with the year ranking as the sixth-warmest on record, according to new, independent data from NASA, NOAA and Berkeley Earth.

Why it matters: Each year's data adds to the relentless long-term trend, which shows rapid warming due overwhelmingly to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions during the past several decades in particular.

Amtrak pays $2.25M to passengers with disabilities over station access

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Amtrak paid $2.25 million to more than 1,500 people as part of a disability discrimination lawsuit settlement, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

The big picture: The train operator and the DOJ reached a deal in December 2020 over Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) violations — which saw people with disabilities encounter "significant accessibility issues" at 78 stations across the U.S., the settlement states.