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The Crew Dragon vehicle ahead of its first uncrewed launch to the ISS. Photo: SpaceX

One of SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsules — the company's vehicle designed to fly NASA astronauts into space — experienced a malfunction during ground testing in Florida on Saturday.

Why it matters: The anomaly could push back SpaceX's plans to launch humans from U.S. soil this summer.

  • According to an unconfirmed video reportedly showing the incident, the Crew Dragon capsule appeared to be engulfed in flames during the failure. No one was hurt as a result of the incident, according to SpaceX.
  • The capsule was the same Crew Dragon that successfully flew to and docked with the space station in March.
  • "Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting anomalies like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test," a SpaceX spokesperson said in a statement. "Our teams are investigating and working closely with our NASA partners."

Driving the news: Details about exactly what happened are scant, but it comes in the context of repeated delays to NASA's Commercial Crew program.

  • NASA has been working toward launching people from U.S. soil again since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.
  • SpaceX and Boeing are in the final stages of development for their respective spacecraft, but it's not a sure thing that either company will launch humans to orbit before the end of the year.
  • Boeing has already delayed the first uncrewed flight of its Starliner capsule to the station, moving it from this spring to August at the earliest.
  • SpaceX was originally targeting July for its first crewed flight, but there were rumors of a delay even before this mishap.

What they're saying:

  • "Tough day for our @SpaceX team not good - but thankfully no one got hurt and with everything we learn from this anomaly Crew Dragon will be a safer vehicle for all her future crews," former NASA astronaut and SpaceX director of space operations Garrett Reisman said on Twitter.
  • "We will learn, make the necessary adjustments and safely move forward with our Commercial Crew Program," NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.

Be smart: Because the root cause of the failure hasn't been released, it's difficult to know exactly how much of a delay this might cause for SpaceX. If the problem is traced back to an issue with the test stand, for example, that won't be as serious as a design flaw with the capsule itself.

Go deeper: SpaceX is raising another $500 million

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
6 hours ago - World

Biden will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe "in the near term"

President Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 28. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said on Friday he plans to move U.S. troops to Eastern European and NATO countries “in the near term.”

Driving the news: “Not too many” U.S. troops, Biden added in remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrew upon returning from a trip to Pennsylvania.