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SpaceX’s Starhopper in flight. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX's Starhopper just made its highest leap yet, flying 150 meters into the air above the company's test facility in South Texas before coming in for a smooth landing.

Why it matters: Founder Elon Musk hopes that one day SpaceX will help bring about a future where people are living in a city on Mars, and Starhopper — a prototype of the company's Starship vehicle — is one of the first small steps toward that goal.

Details: This marked the final test for the Starhopper prototype, with two more advanced prototypes waiting in the wings.

  • Starship is designed to one day be able to transport up to 100 people at a time to Mars atop the company's Super Heavy rocket, which has not yet made its debut.
  • According to a June report in Space News, the first commercial Starship launches could happen as early as 2021.
  • Starship and Super Heavy are expected to launch a group of artists around the Moon in 2023 as part of the Dear Moon project.

Background: Starship and Super Heavy build on the hard-won reusability SpaceX has developed with its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.

  • Super Heavy is expected to be reusable, with Starship able to take off and land on a variety of surfaces and in various conditions.

The bottom line: The Starhopper launch and landing was a pretty awe-inspiring thing to behold, even via webcast, but SpaceX still has a long way to go — and many more tests to get through — before it has a viable way to bring people to Mars.

Go deeper: Watch a replay of the Starhopper test.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
24 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Higher education expands its climate push

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New or expanded climate initiatives are popping up at several universities, a sign of the topic's rising prominence and recognition of the threats and opportunities it creates.

Why it matters: Climate and clean energy initiatives at colleges and universities are nothing new, but it shows expanded an campus focus as the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent, and the world is nowhere near the steep emissions cuts that scientists say are needed to hold future warming in check.

Ina Fried, author of Login
50 mins ago - Economy & Business

The pandemic isn't slowing tech

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Thursday's deluge of Big Tech earnings reports showed one thing pretty clearly: COVID-19 may be bad in all sorts of ways, but it's not slowing down the largest tech companies. If anything, it's helping some companies, like Amazon and Apple.

Yes, but: With the pandemic once again worsening in the U.S. and Europe, it's not clear how long the tech industry's winning streak can last.

Texas early voting surpasses 2016's total turnout

Early voting in Austin earlier this month. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

Texas' early and mail-in voting totals for the 2020 election have surpassed the state's total voter turnout in 2016, with 9,009,850 ballots already cast compared to 8,969,226 in the last presidential cycle.

Why it matters: The state's 38 Electoral College votes are in play — and could deliver a knockout blow for Joe Biden over President Trump — despite the fact that it hasn't backed a Democrat for president since 1976.