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SpaceX's Crew Dragon. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX has pinned down the cause of an explosion that destroyed one of its Crew Dragon capsules on a test stand on April 20.

Why it matters: The stakes are high for SpaceX. NASA has a contract with the company to use its Crew Dragon capsule to fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

  • The first crewed SpaceX flight was expected to occur before the end of 2019, but the accident — which didn't cause any injuries — is likely to set those plans back.

Details: A SpaceX and NASA investigation team found that a leaky valve in the Crew Dragon's propulsion system was to blame for the explosion, which took place about 100 milliseconds before the company lit up the capsule's SuperDraco thrusters for a test firing.

  • SpaceX says they've finished about 80% of the investigation and are switching out the problematic valves, among other fixes.

What to watch: NASA has yet to put out an updated expected timeframe for SpaceX's first crewed flight to the station.

  • "I hope it's this year, but we're going to fly when it's the right time and when we know that we're going to be flying our crew safely." NASA Commercial Crew program manager Kathy Lueders said during a press call.
  • Boeing is also working toward building its Starliner spacecraft under a contract with NASA to fly astronauts to the space station as well.

Go deeper

Trump pressures Barr to release so-called Durham report

Bill Barr. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump and his allies are piling extreme pressure on Attorney General Bill Barr to release a report that Trump believes could hurt perceived Obama-era enemies — and view Barr's designation of John Durham as special counsel as a stall tactic, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Speculation over Barr's fate grew on Tuesday, with just 49 days remaining in Trump's presidency, after Barr gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he said the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread fraud that could change the election's outcome.

CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

A health care worker oversees cars as people arrive to get tested for coronavirus at a testing site in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
4 hours ago - Health

CDC panel: COVID vaccines should go to health workers, long-term care residents first

Hospital staff work in the COVID-19 intensive care unit in Houston. Photo: Go Nakamura via Getty

Health-care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line to get coronavirus vaccines in the United States once they’re cleared and available for public use, an independent CDC panel recommended in a 13-1 emergency vote on Tuesday, per CNBC.

Why it matters: Recent developments in COVID-19 vaccines have accelerated the timeline for distribution as vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna undergo the federal approval process. States are preparing to begin distributing as soon as two weeks from now.