A Falcon 9 rocket launching in December 2018. Photo: SpaceX

An uncrewed SpaceX Dragon capsule is on its way to the International Space Station.

Why it matters: The Dragon is carrying thousands of pounds of supplies, experiments and hardware for NASA. Those supplies include a new docking adaptor, spacesuit parts and Nickelodeon slime.

The big picture: The rocket launched Thursday was a previously flown Falcon 9, and the Dragon it carried is on its third trip in space. The Falcon 9 came back in for a smooth landing on the ground in Florida about 10 minutes after launch.

  • The Dragon is expected to make it to the space station on Saturday.

Details: That reusability is key to SpaceX's business plan, which is aimed at reducing the cost of spaceflight through reuse.

  • This landing marks the company's 44th successful booster recovery.
  • The mission is SpaceX's 18th official cargo run to the station for NASA.
  • SpaceX is also testing a crewed version of its Dragon capsule that is expected to fly NASA astronauts to the station at some point in the next year.

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Deadly storm Zeta pummels parts of Alabama and Florida

A satellite image of Hurricane Zeta. Photo: National Hurricane Center/NOAA

Tropical Storm Zeta has killed at least two people and caused mass power outages after making landfall in Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane Wednesday.

What's happening: After "battering southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi," Zeta weakened to a tropical storm over central Alabama early on Thursday, but it was still packing powerful winds and heavy rains, per the National Hurricane Center.

Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases

Catholics go through containment protocols including body-temperature measurement and hands-sanitisation before entering the Saint Christopher Parish Church, Taipei City, Taiwan, in July. Photo: Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Taiwan on Thursday marked no locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 200 days, as the island of 23 million people's total number of infections reported stands at 550 and the COVID-19 death toll at seven.

Why it matters: Nowhere else in the world has reached such a milestone. While COVID-19 cases surge across the U.S. and Europe, Taiwan's last locally transmitted case was on April 12. Experts credit tightly regulated travel, early border closure, "rigorous contact tracing, technology-enforced quarantine and universal mask wearing," along with the island state's previous experience with the SARS virus, per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: As Taiwan's profile rises, so does risk of conflict with China

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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