Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Hewlett-Packard Lifts Off With NASA Contract

Computing giant Hewlett-Packard says it has landed a four-year contract with NASA worth up to $2.5 billion to provide desktop computing services and devices that the agency says will increase is efficiency and allow its employees to collaborate more effectively. HP’s assignment: modernize NASA’s entire fleet of desktops and other user-facing services, plus support some 60,000 employees.

It’s a big win for HP, no question, though it comes at a time when NASA’s mission is in a bit of flux. The Space Shuttle program is winding down after three decades, and at least for a few years, the U.S. won’t be sending any astronauts into space, at least not on government-issue spacecraft. The final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavor is scheduled for tomorrow, and then the final flight of Atlantis is on track for June. And that will close the Shuttle era.

As it happens, HP’s announcement of its contract with NASA coincides with a media briefing expected today about the next stage in manned space flight, sponsored by the private sector. Last week the agency handed out $269 million in seed money to several companies, including the aerospace giant Boeing and SpaceX, the private space outfit founded by PayPal founder Elon Musk. The plan is to have private contractors take over the job of sending astronauts to the International Space Station, though that will take a few years. In the meantime, astronauts will be hitching a ride on Russian spacecraft at a cost of $63 million a shot.

Whatever the outcome, though, I guess this means that when you see TV shots of Mission Control in Houston, the computer screens they’ll be looking at will have HP logos on them.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald