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A screenshot of the rocket launching. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX's all-civilian Inspiration4 mission made history Wednesday night when it launched into orbit.

Why it matters: It's the first time a crew of amateurs has launched to orbit without a professional astronaut onboard. The mission also signals the start of a new era in space — one defined by an industry pushing to launch many more private people to orbit in the coming years.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

State of play: The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Inspiration4 crew members launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 8:02 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

  • Jared Isaacman, Sian Proctor, Hayley Arceneaux and Chris Sembroski will now live in their Dragon capsule in orbit for the next three days, before coming in for a splashdown somewhere off the Florida coast.
  • "We're very aware of how lucky we are, to be part of this history that SpaceX is creating right now," Isaacman told said at a news conference Tuesday ahead of the launch.

Catch up quick: Isaacman is the commander of the Dragon and the brainchild of Inspiration4, chartering this flight from SpaceX.

  • Arceneaux was chosen for this flight by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, her employer and the place she was treated for childhood cancer. St. Jude is also the beneficiary of a $200 million fundraiser associated with Inspiration4.
  • Proctor was picked through a reality TV-style competition for entrepreneurs, and Sembroski was selected as part of a raffle anyone could enter.
  • All four crew members spent a little more than five months training together with SpaceX, far less than the usual time a professional astronaut trains before flying to orbit.

What's next: The crew will now spend three days living in orbit — experiencing weightlessness, staring at Earth and the stars and performing experiments.

  • They've also taken some of the comforts of home up to space with them.
  • Sembroski, Arceneaux, Isaacman and Proctor will be able to eat cold pizza and other relatively fresh foods their first day in orbit, and they have movies and TV shows to watch while in space as well.

The big picture: SpaceX hopes to one day make space travel like air travel, with very little training necessary for folks flying to orbit and even beyond.

  • The company also hopes to bring about a future in which there are a significant number of people living on Mars, which would require opening up space travel to many more people.

The bottom line: If the space industry wants to bring about a future where there's a city on Mars and people living in space, more and more missions like Inspiration4 will need to start flying.

🎧 Go deeper: Listen to the new season of Axios' How it Happened: The Next Astronauts here.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with details of the launch time and comment from Isaacman.

Go deeper

Meet Arkansas' office of the future: Ledger

I put on a hard hat and took a tour of the under-construction Ledger in downtown Bentonville on Friday. Now I’m ready to tell you all about the massive project that’s impossible to miss.

Why it matters: The flexible coworking space was planned before the pandemic, but it couldn’t come at a better time given changes in working habits. Mary Best, who’s on the operations and community team for the Ledger, called it the "evolution of the coffee shop worker."

  • It'll be a place that startups can use while getting their businesses off the ground, where self-employed and remote workers can rent office space, and where business people from out of town can get some work done.
  • Coworking space exists in Benton County, but not on this scale.

1 cool thing: Perhaps the most glaringly unique part of this building is that you can ride your bicycle up to any floor — including its in-building coffee shop.

  • If Bentonville is going to proudly be the "mountain biking capital of the world," then a workspace like this should celebrate the bike community, Best and developer Josh Kyles tell Axios.

Details: The Ledger will be six stories and 230,000-square-feet with a bar and retail space. It will be able to accommodate about 1,500 workers at full capacity.

  • It will include a variety of offices, such as coworking space and private offices of different sizes.
  • Workers will not commit to leases. Instead, the building will be membership-based, allowing people to pay for day or month passes, Kyles says.

Unlike most office spaces only open to the people who work there, the Ledger will be community-oriented, Best says.

  • The space will be open to some ticketed events.
  • And the adjacent parking garage, a joint project between the Ledger and the city, will have an 80-foot mural painted on the side. (No, they wouldn't tell me what it'll be yet.)

Flashback: This was originally supposed to be a joint project between Kyles and WeWork, but WeWork is no longer involved.

What's next: The Ledger is expected to open summer 2022. It will at first only be open to a limited number of people to work out any kinks, Best says.

  • Also, I'm told there are a few more features up the Ledger's sleeve that the developers aren’t ready to share. Stay tuned.
Updated 52 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Facebook paying up to $14M to settle employment discrimination claims

Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook has agreed to pay up to $14.25 million to settle allegations that it discriminated against American workers by reserving positions for temporary visa holders, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The settlement represents the largest civil penalty and monetary award that the Civil Rights Division has recovered in the 35-year history of the Immigration and Nationality Act's anti-discrimination provision.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Mapping repression in China's Xinjiang region

Data: © Mapbox, © OpenStreetMap; Map: Will Chase/Axios

A sweeping new report released today by an Australian research organization reveals new details about how the Chinese Communist Party — and specifically who within the party — is carrying out its campaign of repression in Xinjiang.

Why it matters: Uncovering the actual offices and individuals implementing the Chinese government's genocide and forced labor policies in Xinjiang can bring accountability and help international companies delink supply chains in compliance with U.S. and EU forced labor laws.

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