Elon Musk's SpaceX is promising to launch four civilians into orbit by next year, an ambitious goal that would mark the first commercial crew launch if completed successfully.

Billionaire Jared Isaacman, CEO of Pennsylvania-based payment technology firm Shift4 Payments Inc., is financing the trip, chartering the Dragon rocket and donating three seats. The remaining three people joining Isaacman will be announced in coming weeks, SpaceX said Monday.

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A federal judge wants SpaceX to explain next week how it will defend its decision to block a federal subpoena of hiring documents.

Judge Michael Wilner of the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California has set a video conference hearing with lawyers for both sides on Feb. 8.

He said, in court documents, he will likely cover "how SpaceX plans to prove that compliance with the subpoena would be unduly burdensome for the company."

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The U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation into whether Elon Musk's SpaceX discriminates based on citizenship status, according to court documents filed Thursday.

The DOJ is asking a federal judge in Los Angeles to order SpaceX to turn over Form 9 documents, which show an employee's citizenship status, within two weeks. It comes after the rocketship maker ignored the DOJ's subpoenas filed for the documents last year.

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