SpaceIL, an Israeli nonprofit, will be the colead customer on a Spaceflight mission that will ride a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket into orbit; finishing touches put on Microsoft’s Manhattan store due to open at the end of the month.
An Israeli team aiming to be the first to land a privately funded robot on the surface of the moon has booked a ticket with Seattle-based Spaceflight to launch its unmanned vehicle in 2017.
SpaceIL, an Israeli nonprofit set up to compete in Google’s $30 million Lunar XPRIZE competition, will be the colead customer on a Spaceflight mission that will ride a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket into orbit.
The SpaceIL robotic spacecraft, about the size of a dishwasher, will sit in a designated capsule atop the launch rocket.
Spaceflight has bought the entire launch from SpaceX and will fill the rocket with a cluster of more than 20 secondary payloads, mostly satellites.
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Once the capsule separates from the launch rocket and enters orbit, it will automatically release the SpaceIL robot, which will continue to the moon.
It will use navigation sensors to guide it to the lunar surface, with engineers in a mission-control room sending commands and corrections as needed.
To win the Lunar XPRIZE, a competitor must place an unmanned spacecraft on the moon’s surface, explore at least 500 meters from the landing site, and transmit high-definition video back to Earth, before the mission deadline of Dec. 31, 2017.
So far 16 teams have said they will go for the $30 million prize.
While other teams are planning some kind of roving robot that trundles across the lunar surface, SpaceIL has designed a spacecraft that will hop. The idea is that sometime after the initial landing it will take off again with the fuel left in its propulsion system, then land again 500 meters away.
Earlier this month, a rival team, San Francisco-based Moon Express, announced a contract with startup space company Rocket Lab to launch three robotic spacecraft to the moon in 2017.
One of the co-founders of Moon Express is Naveen Jain, who founded Bellevue-based Internet companies InfoSpace and Intelius. InfoSpace crashed when the dot-com bubble burst, spurring allegations of deception and multiple lawsuits, which Jain eventually settled.
— Dominic Gates
Microsoft store in N.Y. to open soon
Microsoft, a company best known for building the stack of software that powers your computer, is getting ready to take a place at the heart of American consumer capitalism.
The Redmond company’s flagship New York retail store on Fifth Avenue, scheduled to open Oct. 26, is nestled between Stuart Weitzman, the high-end women’s shoe designer, and clothier Tommy Hilfiger. The building was most recently occupied by Italian fashion brand Fendi.
That’s the norm on this stretch of the Manhattan shopping district, where tourists are far more likely to encounter leather handbags, $200 polo shirts or designer sunglasses, than software and smartphones.
There are exceptions. Among them is the famous underground, glass-domed Apple store that’s said to rake in among the highest sales per square foot of any retail store.
And soon, five blocks to the south, Microsoft. A visit last week to the site of the new store showed a venue that appeared to be nearly complete.
A pair of construction workers were putting finishing touches on the sidewalk, while a security guard checked the badges of employees on their way in. The five-story glass facade was partly boarded up with advertisements for Microsoft products.
Last Tuesday, at a media event just a mile and a half away, the company doubled down on building the products that would stock the store’s shelves, revealing a slate of new hardware including Microsoft’s first-ever laptop. A company with a mixed record in the devices business, including two disastrous deals to buy phone-hardware companies and an abortive entry into the music-player business, is apparently there to stay.
Microsoft, Chief Executive Satya Nadella said at the event, isn’t building hardware for its own sake. “We plan to invent new personal computers and new personal computing,” he said.
And, to crystallize the giant, sometimes unfocused company’s mission, he added: “We make things that help you make things.”
— Matt Day