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Light trail from the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the lunar lander into space from Cape Canaveral on Feb. 21, 2019. Photo: SpaceX

The first privately built lunar lander, a vehicle made in Israel, is on its way to the moon. It successfully deployed after launching at 8:45 p.m. Thursday off Cape Canaveral on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and is expected to land on the moon's surface in April.

Why it matters: Along with the U.S., the former Soviet Union and China were, until tonight, the only countries to successfully land spacecraft on the lunar surface. Axios' Andrew Freedman notes that this lander — named Beresheet, meaning "in the beginning" in Hebrew — is the first to be entirely financed and built by the private-sector. It demonstrates that the public-private space race is on, with the moon in many companies' and countries' sights.

NASA Administrator James Bridenstine issued the following statement:

"Congratulations to SpaceIL and the Israel Space Agency. This is a historic step for all nations and commercial space as we look to extend our collaborations beyond low-Earth orbit and on to the Moon.
"In July, I was in Israel and was very impressed with their commitment to expanding their role in the world’s space community. As we better understand Israel’s capabilities and the innovative work of their private industry, we know they’ll be an even stronger international partner in the future, one vital to the success of extending commercial space to the Moon and eventually on to Mars and beyond. There are terrific opportunities awaiting Israel and all of us in advancing the space frontier."

Go deeper: Read Axios' special report on the space race

Go deeper

Updated 26 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden calls Fox News reporter a "stupid son of a b---h" on hot mic

President Biden blasted Fox News' Peter Doocy on Monday after the reporter asked if the nation's soaring inflation is a political liability, saying, "what a stupid son of a b----h."

The latest: The president called Doocy Monday evening, the reporter told Fox's Sean Hannity. "He cleared the air and I appreciated it. We had a nice call," Doocy said when asked whether the president apologized, adding: "I don't need anyone to apologize to me."

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive for COVID, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

Mike Pompeo shells out for media makeover

Via "Fox News Sunday"

Mike Pompeo's political action committee spent $30,000 on media training from last March to June — the most on any service beyond payroll during the first six months of 2021.

Why it matters: The former secretary of State hasn't just been losing weight but working to hone his media skills amid speculation about a possible presidential run, records show.

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