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

20 Republican former U.S. attorneys endorse Biden, call Trump "a threat to the rule of law"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Twenty Republican former U.S. Attorneys on Tuesday endorsed Joe Biden while saying that "President Trump's leadership is a threat to rule of law" in the U.S., the Washington Post reports.

What they're saying: In the letter, the former prosecutors criticize Trump's use of the Department of Justice, saying the president expects the DOJ to "to serve his personal and political interests."

  • "He has politicized the Justice Department, dictating its priorities along political lines and breaking down the barrier that prior administrations had maintained between political and prosecutorial decision-making," the letter says.
Updated 47 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal response has only gotten worse — The swing states where the pandemic is raging.
  2. Health: The coronavirus is starting to crush some hospitals — 13 states set single-day case records last week.
  3. Business: Winter coronavirus threat spurs new surge of startup activity.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes cable and satellite TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota COVID cases traced to 3 Trump campaign events.
  6. World: Unrest in Italy as restrictions grow across Europe.

Ted Cruz defends GOP's expected return to prioritizing national debt

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told "Axios on HBO" on Monday that he wishes reining in the national debt was a higher priority for President Trump.

Why it matters: Trump pledged during the 2016 campaign to reduce the national debt and eliminate it entirely within eight years, though he also deemed himself "the king of debt" and said there were some priorities that required spending. In the fiscal year that ended in September, the deficit reached a record $3.1 trillion.