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Starship SN15 after landing. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX launched its fifth test of a Starship prototype on Wednesday and managed to stick the landing.

Why it matters: SpaceX hopes that Starship will eventually be used to deliver payloads and people to deep space destinations like the Moon and Mars.

What's happening: The Starship prototype, named SN15, was an upgraded version of earlier Starships launched by the Elon Musk-founded company.

  • Those earlier launches ended in failures of some kind or another, including exploding during descent, exploding on impact with the ground and exploding after a hard landing.
  • But Wednesday's test was a success, with Musk tweeting, "Starship landing nominal!"

The intrigue: SpaceX just received a contract from NASA to continue to fly astronauts to the surface of the Moon using Starship.

  • That contract is expected to be a boon for its development program and could bring the rocket and spacecraft under more scrutiny from the space agency.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
May 4, 2021 - Science

Government cash is king for private spaceflight

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The public fights between Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk over their space companies point to a broader truth in the space industry: There isn't enough money to go around.

Why it matters: The promise of commercial human spaceflight still hinges on billions of dollars of investment from the U.S. government.

21 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats propose raising debt ceiling through midterms

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House and Senate leadership announced on Monday that they plan to attach a proposal to raise the debt ceiling through Dec. 2022 to a short-term, government funding bill. The bill must pass before the end of the month or Congress risks a shutdown.

Why it matters: Democrats are taking a huge risk by trying to force through an increase of the debt limit in its must-pass funding bill. The move is wishful thinking on behalf of Democrats who are hoping they can get at least 10 centrist Republicans to balk, as well as an effort to put Republicans on record opposing it.

Biden to stress U.S. does not seek new Cold War in UN speech

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

President Biden will use his first address before the UN General Assembly to lay out his vision for an era of "intensive diplomacy" with allies and "vigorous competition" with great powers — without a Cold War with China.

Why it matters: Biden will take the podium in New York on Tuesday with his own international credibility in question after the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. His administration also is struggling to build international momentum to fight climate change, the pandemic and rising global authoritarianism.