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Artist's illustration of a Crew Dragon atop a Falcon 9 rocket. Illustration: SpaceX

SpaceX on Sunday completed an in-flight test of its abort system designed to keep astronauts safe in the event of an emergency during launch.

Why it matters: The test marks the last major milestone ahead of SpaceX's first crewed flight to the International Space Station for NASA.

The state of play: SpaceX's Crew Dragon was launched atop a Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 10:30 a.m. ET.

  • Not long after launch, the Crew Dragon's onboard engines propelled the capsule away from the Falcon 9 to simulate what would happen in the event of an emergency during ascent.
  • The Falcon 9 broke up after the Crew Dragon accelerated away from the rocket, as expected.
  • The Crew Dragon then splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean where recovery teams are on hand to grab it and bring it back to shore.

Between the lines: This was a particularly important test for SpaceX after one of the company's Crew Dragons was destroyed during a ground test in April.

What's next: SpaceX and NASA will now review the data gathered during the test to see how the Crew Dragon performed during its flight and splashdown.

  • NASA hasn't yet announced a date for SpaceX's first crewed flight to the station, but it's expected to occur in the first part of the year.
  • Boeing has also been working toward launching its own crewed system to the space station, but the company experienced a setback when its uncrewed Starliner capsule wasn't able to dock with the orbiting outpost during a test in December.

Go deeper: The make-or-break moment for U.S. spaceflight

Go deeper

8 people killed in shooting at FedEx facility in Indianapolis

A screenshot of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Genae Cook during a news conference Friday morning. Photo: Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department/Facebook

At least eight people are dead and multiple others injured in a shooting Thursday night at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, authorities said.

Details: "The alleged shooter has taken his own life here at the scene," Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Genae Cook said during a news conference early Friday.

Dems race to address, preempt stimulus fraud claims

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Biden officials are working to root out the systematic fraud in unemployment and Paycheck Protection Program claims that plagued the Trump administration’s efforts to boost the economy with coronavirus relief money, Gene Sperling told House committee chairmen privately this week.

Why it matters: President Biden just signed another $1.9 trillion of aid into law, with Sperling tapped to oversee its implementation. And the administration is asking Congress to approve another $2.2 trillion for the first phase of an infrastructure package.

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden close to picking Nick Burns as China ambassador

Nicholas Burns. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat, is in the final stages of vetting to serve as President Biden’s ambassador to China, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Across the administration, there's a consensus the U.S. relationship with China will be the most critical — and consequential — of Biden's presidency. From trade to Taiwan, the stakes are high. Burns could be among the first batch of diplomatic nominees announced in the coming weeks.

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