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The Falcon 9 rocket standing on the pad during a test. Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Four astronauts are set to launch to the International Space Station on Sunday aboard a SpaceX capsule.

Why it matters: This flight will be the company's second crewed launch for NASA and is expected to be the first of many regular flights to the station, helping end the space agency's reliance on Russian rockets for crewed missions.

Where it stands: The Falcon 9 rocket carrying NASA's Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker, Victor Glover and Japan's Soichi Noguchi is expected to take flight from Florida at 7:27pm ET.

What's next: If all goes according to plan and the mission launches on time, the four astronauts are expected to dock to the space station on Monday.

The big picture: As NASA plans for this launch, the space agency's past failures are never far from the minds of the people on the ground responsible for making sure that this mission succeeds.

  • "I was there through Columbia too ... and what you learn is, you have to be vigilant," NASA's head of human spaceflight Kathryn Lueders said during a press conference ahead of launch. "You have to make sure that you're listening to the data."

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to say that the astronauts will dock with the space station on Monday, not Sunday.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 26, 2021 - Science

What to know about the Moon rock in Biden's Oval Office

The Moon rock now in the Oval Office. Photo: NASA

President Joe Biden hasn't revealed much about his space policy priorities yet, but space fans can take heart that space is on his mind, thanks to an Apollo Moon rock that now decorates the Oval Office.

Why it matters: The Moon rock — loaned to the White House by NASA — is on display "in symbolic recognition of earlier generations’ ambitions and accomplishments, and support for America’s current Moon to Mars exploration approach," according to a statement from NASA.

Mike Allen, author of AM
4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."

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