Boeing's Starliner during a test of its abort system in New Mexico. Photo: NASA

SpaceX and Boeing are working to clear a number of safety hurdles before the end of the year ahead of launching their first crews of astronauts to the International Space Station.

Why it matters: The two companies have been tasked with flying people to space from U.S. soil, ending NASA's reliance on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft for transportation to the station.

  • The Commercial Crew Program has been plagued by technical delays and budget shortfalls, but Boeing and SpaceX are now expected to fly astronauts aboard their Starliner and Crew Dragon spacecraft for the first time early next year.

State of play: On Monday, Boeing launched a successful test of its abort system designed to pull astronauts to safety in the event of a rocket failure at launch.

  • As the capsule was descending to Earth after the engine firing, one of three parachutes didn't deploy, which didn't invalidate the test, according to NASA.
  • For its part, SpaceX has performed 13 successful tests of its new parachutes for its Crew Dragon.
  • SpaceX has tested an updated version of its abort system on the ground since the company made changes to it after a failure on a test stand in April. It is also expected to perform a full ground test and an in-flight abort test in the coming weeks.

What's next: Neither Boeing nor SpaceX is expected to fly people to orbit before the end of the year, as initially expected. Instead, NASA now estimates that both could fly as early as the start of 2020.

  • Boeing's uncrewed test flight of its system is expected to launch Dec. 17, with its first crewed flight expected sometime after that.
  • SpaceX already completed an uncrewed test flight to the station, but it’s not yet clear when the company will fly its first crew to orbit.

Go deeper: SpaceX and Boeing unlikely to launch astronauts to orbit this year

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Trump tightens screws on ByteDance to sell Tiktok

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump added more pressure Friday night on China-based TikTok parent ByteDance to exit the U.S., ordering it to divest all assets related to the U.S. operation of TikTok within 90 days.

Between the lines: The order means ByteDance must be wholly disentangled from TikTok in the U.S. by November. Trump had previously ordered TikTok banned if ByteDance hadn't struck a deal within 45 days. The new order likely means ByteDance has just another 45 days after that to fully close the deal, one White House source told Axios.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 21,056,850 — Total deaths: 762,293— Total recoveries: 13,100,902Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m ET: 5,306,215 — Total deaths: 168,334 — Total recoveries: 1,796,309 — Total tests: 65,676,624Map.
  3. Health: CDC: Survivors of COVID-19 have up to three months of immunity Fauci believes normalcy will return by "the end of 2021" with vaccine — The pandemic's toll on mental health — FDA releases first-ever list of medical supplies in shortage.
  4. States: California passes 600,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.
  5. Cities: Coronavirus pandemic dims NYC's annual 9/11 Tribute in Light.
  6. Business: How small businesses got stiffed — Unemployment starts moving in the right direction.
  7. Politics: Biden signals fall strategy with new ads.

Harris: "Women are going to be a priority" in Biden administration

Sen. Kamala Harris at an event in Wilmington, Del. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In her first sit-down interview since being named Joe Biden's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris talked about what she'll do to fight for women if elected VP, and how the Democrats are thinking about voter turnout strategies ahead of November.

What they're saying: "In a Biden-Harris administration women are going to be a priority, understanding that women have many priorities and all of them must be acknowledged," Harris told The 19th*'s Errin Haines-Whack.