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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.

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress sprints to meet crush of deadlines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congressional leaders have been pushing off vital action for months — and a lot of it will catch up with them in December, which begins Wednesday.

Driving the news: Funding for the federal government is set to expire at midnight on Friday. There are also consequential deadlines related to the debt limit, President Biden's agenda and annual actions like voting on the National Defense Authorization Act.

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