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Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are ramping up the suborbital space race

Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are pushing to launch their first paying customers to the edge of space.

Why it matters: If the two companies succeed, it will open up a new market in the space industry, one focused on consumer-driven demand for expensive trips to suborbital space.


Driving the news: Jeff Bezos' space company Blue Origin is planning to launch its first crewed flight on July 20.

  • One seat aboard the spacecraft is now being auctioned off to the highest bidder, with five other passengers not yet announced.
  • Blue Origin is still being tight-lipped on how much a typical seat onboard their New Shepard space system will cost, but Virgin Galactic's cost about $250,000.

The intrigue: Virgin Galactic went public via SPAC in 2019 and quickly became popular among traders as the first public human spaceflight company.

  • Recently, however, the company's stock has fallen in part due to delays in testing their space plane and stock selloffs by Richard Branson and Chamath Palihapitiya, who helped take the company public.
  • Blue Origin is not public, and Bezos reportedly has sold about $1 billion worth of Amazon stock per year to support the venture.
  • Going public via SPAC has become an attractive option for a number of space companies, in part because getting a space company functioning at a high level often involves a huge influx of upfront capital and a long development timeline.

The big picture: In 2019, Northern Sky Research predicted the suborbital and orbital tourism markets may be worth up to $14 billion in revenue by 2028.

  • That’s a relatively small amount of revenue compared to the satellite manufacturing and launch business — which NSR predicts will be worth $478 billion by 2029 — but experts think that space tourism could do wonders for the space industry at large, bringing more visibility and popularity to it.

Naomi Osaka eliminated from Olympic tennis tournament in Tokyo

Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka was eliminated from the Olympics after losing her Tokyo tennis tournament match 6-1, 6-4 in the third round to Czech Marketa Vondrousova on Tuesday.

Editor's note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

Extreme drought pushes 2 major U.S. lakes to historic lows

Two significant U.S. lakes, one of which is a major reservoir, are experiencing historic lows amid a drought that scientists have linked to climate change.

What's happening: Lake Powell, the second largest reservoir in the U.S., has fallen 3,554 feet in elevation, leaving the crucial reservoir on the Colorado River, at 33% capacity — the lowest since it was filled over half a century ago, new U.S. Bureau of Reclamation data shows.

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North and South Korea restart hotline and pledge to improve ties

North and South Korea's leaders have pledged to improve relations and resumed previously suspended communication channels between the two countries, per Reuters.

Details: South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to "restore mutual confidence and develop their relationships again as soon as possible," South Korea's Blue House spokesperson Park Soo Hyun said in a televised briefing, AP notes.

  • This followed an exchange of letters between the two leaders since April.

Go deeper: Kim Jong Un says prepare for "dialogue and confrontation" with U.S.

Editor's note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

U.S. teen Lydia Jacoby wins Olympic gold medal in 100m breaststroke at Tokyo Games

Team USA's 17-year-old swimmer Lydia Jacoby has won the Olympic gold medal in the women's 100-meter breaststroke at the Tokyo Games.

Of note: The Alaskan is the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo, and she beat Lilly King into second place.

Editor's note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

Pelosi expected to extend proxy voting as Delta variant surges

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is expected to extend proxy voting through the fall — and potentially until the end of the year — Democratic lawmakers and aides tell Axios.

Why it matters: The spread of the Delta variant has alarmed both members and staffers anxious about interacting with the unvaccinated. Pelosi’s anticipated move — continuing an emergency COVID-19 measure enacted last year so lawmakers could vote remotely — is aimed at allaying those concerns.

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Jan. 6 panel to paint haunting scene of Capitol attack with graphic footage

The Jan. 6 select committee will paint a haunting picture of what unfolded during the attack on the Capitol during its first public hearing on Tuesday, Axios is told.

Why it matters: The nine-member panel will not only hear from four police officers on the grounds that day, but show graphic video footage similar to the chilling 13-minute video Democrats aired during Donald Trump's second impeachment trial.

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Bipartisan infrastructure bill reaches do-or-die as infighting breaks out ahead of deadline

A host of new problems emerged Monday morning threatening whether the Group of 10 can actually make this "infrastructure week" after all.

Why it matters: This is the bill's do-or-die moment.

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Peter Thiel floods 2022 GOP races with cash, makes candidates an easy target

Tech billionaire Peter Thiel is injecting huge sums into some crucial 2022 midterm contests — and drawing fire from Republicans eager to tie their rivals to the GOP's Silicon Valley bogeymen.

Why it matters: Whether he's backing a candidate or being attacked by one, Thiel embodies the present GOP zeitgeist. His brand of nationalist conservatism mimics the party's Trump-era shift. Yet the fortune he's using to bankroll like-minded candidates derives from an industry reviled by much of that base.

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