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Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

After a nearly week-long mission, the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule returned to Earth Thursday morning, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Florida.

The big picture: This "Demo-1 mission" for SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule marked the first time that a commercially built and operated spacecraft designed to carry a human crew has docked at the International Space Station from U.S. soil. The test mission completed numerous milestones, each of which NASA and SpaceX will be reviewing before going forward with a crewed test flight this spring.

  • All parachute deployments for the Crew Dragon's atmosphere re-entry went according to plan.
  • The spacecraft successfully docked and then undocked automatically with the ISS, the first time a cargo capsule has done this without a human pilot at the helm.
  • This mission marked the first use of new adapters to connect the Crew Dragon with the space station. These adapters will be used with the Orion spacecraft for NASA’s future mission to the moon, per a NASA press release following the Dragon's re-entry on Friday.

What's next: An in-flight, uncrewed abort test will take place after the Demo-1 mission. Assuming all goes smoothly and the company meets certification requirements, then the first crewed SpaceX test flight to the ISS, with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board, could blast off as early as July.

Boeing, which also is developing a new spacecraft to launch astronauts to the ISS, has a timeline that is proceeding at roughly the same pace.

Go deeper: SpaceX launch brings the U.S. closer to restoring passenger flights

Go deeper

Biden to sign 15 executive actions on Day One

President-elect Joe Biden. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to sign 15 executive actions upon taking office Wednesday, immediately reversing key Trump administration policies.

Why it matters: The 15 actions — aimed at issues like climate change and immigration — mark more drastic immediate steps compared with the two day-one actions from Biden's four predecessors combined, according to incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Off the Rails

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Elijah Nouvelage, Alex Wong/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence. Trump believes the vice president can solve all his problems by simply refusing to certify the Electoral College results. It's a simple test of loyalty: Trump or the U.S. Constitution.

"The end is coming, Donald."

The male voice in the TV ad boomed through the White House residence during "Fox & Friends" commercial breaks. Over and over and over. "The end is coming, Donald. ... On Jan. 6, Mike Pence will put the nail in your political coffin."

Big Tech's post-riot reckoning

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Capitol insurrection means the anti-tech talk in Washington is more likely to lead to action, since it's ever clearer that the attack was planned, at least in part, on social media.

Why it matters: The big platforms may have hoped they'd move to D.C.'s back burner, with the Hill focused on the Biden agenda and the pandemic out of control. But now, there'll be no escaping harsh scrutiny.