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Elon Musk Photo: Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz/Bloomberg via Getty Images

NASA announced Friday it has awarded Elon Musk's SpaceX a $2.89 billion contract to build a spacecraft that will carry astronauts to the Moon's surface.

Why it matters: NASA hopes to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024, which if successful, would be the first time since the last Apollo mission. SpaceX beat out Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics for the contract.

  • NASA had previously awarded all three companies millions of dollars to refine their lunar lander ideas.

What they're saying: "We should accomplish the next landing as soon as possible," said Steve Jurczyk, NASA's acting administrator, per Reuters. "This is an incredible time to be involved in human exploration, for all humanity."

  • As part of the Artemis program, NASA pledged to land the first woman on the Moon.
  • "Another goal of the Artemis program includes landing the first person of color on the lunar surface," NASA said Friday.

SpaceX tweeted Friday: "We are humbled to help @NASAArtemis usher in a new era of human space exploration."

Our thought bubble via Axios' Andrew Freedman: By selecting only SpaceX for this project, NASA will be without a backup if the company fails to deliver on its goals.

  • Often, for a project this critical, NASA has given awards to more than one company to allow for possible problems.
  • Both Boeing and SpaceX received contracts to fly astronauts to the International Space Station, and Boeing's launch vehicle encountered software problems that delayed its flights, so SpaceX flew first.

Go deeper: Comparing the Artemis and Apollo missions to the Moon

Go deeper

28 mins ago - Health

NYC to impose vaccine mandate on private employers

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced a new COVID vaccine mandate for private companies during a Monday interview with MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

Why it matters: De Blasio said it was a "first-in-the-nation measure" and will go into effect starting Dec. 27.

D.C.-Beijing tensions are shifting markets

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. markets stand to lose $2 trillion in value if D.C. and Beijing drift further apart.

Why it matters: Political chasms are showing up in new securities regulations that put companies and investors in a bind. The rules are also another reflection of how much relations between the world’s largest economies have cooled, even as they remain economically interdependent. 

4 hours ago - Health
Axios Investigates

Documents reveal the secrecy of America's drug pricing matrix

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

American businesses spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year on prescription drugs, and the bills keep getting bigger. But some of the companies promising to help rein in those costs prevent employers from looking under the hood.

Why it matters: Documents provided to Axios reveal a new layer of secrecy within the maze of American drug pricing — one in which firms that manage drug coverage for hundreds of employers, representing millions of workers, obscure the details of their work and make it difficult to figure out whether they're actually providing a good deal.