The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced on Wednesday that it will extend its contract with the private space transportation company SpaceX to cover five additional missions. This will result in an increase in the value of the partnership between the two organizations by $1.4 billion.
As a result of their collaboration to transport personnel to and from the International Space Station, SpaceX and NASA will have a secure and stable future thanks to the contract. The newly contracted launches will continue their relationship until the year 2030 and will raise the overall contract value to nearly $5 billion for 14 astronaut flights that are fully operational.
In 2014, SpaceX and NASA signed their first agreement together. It included coverage for six different astronaut launches and had an estimated value of $2.6 billion at the time. In the year 2020, NASA carried out a crewed demonstration mission, which marked the first astronaut launch to take off from US territory since the Space Shuttle program was discontinued. This mission was a crewed demonstration mission. Since then, SpaceX has been in charge of normal launches, and the company is planning to send its fifth fully operational trip into space this fall.
This pact builds on an extension of a contract that NASA offered SpaceX in February for three extra flights of the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. The space agency had already suggested in June that it wanted to sign on for even more flights when it gave SpaceX the extension of the contract.
In a blog post from that period, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said that they have decided to keep the International Space Station operational until 2030. “Because of this extension, additional crew rotation trips are going to have to be flown in order to maintain a safe and sustainable flight cadence over the entirety of the space station’s remaining planned operations.”
Recent events have cast doubt on whether or not the International Space Station will continue to function past the year 2030. This is because Russia, the United States’ primary partner on the ISS, has recently threatened to end space station cooperation in the midst of mounting geopolitical tensions caused by the country’s invasion of Ukraine. However, NASA has stated on multiple occasions that it is certain the space station would continue to operate in the same manner as it always has. Due to the fact that the Russian-controlled component of the space station provides the essential propulsion to maintain the International Space Station (ISS) in orbit, NASA is unable to acquire full control of the ISS at this time.
The extension of NASA’s contract with SpaceX demonstrates the space agency’s faith in both the continued operation of the International Space Station (ISS) beyond the year 2030 and in Elon Musk’s leadership of SpaceX, which, in spite of some early cultural tensions with the space agency, has become one of NASA’s most trusted contractors.
On the other hand, Boeing (BA) likewise possesses a contract under the aforementioned program. The company’s astronaut spaceship, which goes by the name Starliner, has been plagued with development problems and technical snags, but Boeing has just finished an uncrewed test flight. Now, the corporation is focusing its efforts on launching its first crewed expedition sometime in the early years of 2023.
NASA has made it abundantly clear that it continues to have faith in Boeing. In a statement released in June, NASA’s director of commercial space, Phil McAllister, commented on the agency’s decision to extend SpaceX’s contract by saying that “(h0)wever, we will need additional missions from SpaceX to implement our strategy of having each commercial provider fly alternating missions once per year.”
According to McAllister, “Our objective has always been to have a number of different providers for crewed transportation to the space station.” “SpaceX has been reliably flying two NASA crewed missions per year, and now we must backfill those trips to assist the agency in meeting its long-term needs in a safe manner.”
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One Industry Is Earning Historic Profits As China’s Economy Slows. Testing Covid
The Chinese government’s zero-Covid strategy of endless testing and lockdowns has been devastating to the country’s economy and has had a significant impact on company revenues, but it has been a boon for test manufacturers.
Twelve of the most successful COVID testing companies in China have lately reported enormous leaps in both their revenues and their net profits for the first six months of this year.
Andon Health, a company that distributes Covid test kits in both the domestic and international markets, announced that its net profit in the first half of 2022 surged by 27,728%, reaching a total of 15.24 billion yuan ($2.2 billion). It was the highest growth rate achieved by any publicly traded corporation operating in mainland China.
During this time, the company’s revenue increased by 3,989%.
The company not only benefits from China’s aggressive testing campaign at home, but also from the huge demand in the United States, as its iHealth Lab had recently won US government contracts for supplying antigen rapid tests. China’s aggressive testing campaign at home has helped the company tremendously.
Because of the robust demand in the global Covid testing market, the net income of Assure Tech, a diagnostic company based in Hangzhou, increased by 1,324%.
Other manufacturers of tests reported gains in net profit for the first half of the year that ranged from 55% to 376% higher than the previous year.
The Chinese economy has been severely harmed as a result of the never-ending Covid testings, the back-and-forth government-enforced lockdowns, and the border restrictions. The increase in GDP during the second quarter was only 0.4%, making it the worst pace in almost two years. The majority of the world’s largest investment banks have reduced their full-year growth projections for China to 3% or less, which is far less than the stated target of 5.5% that the government established earlier this year.
In addition to this, Chinese businesses have experienced one of the worst earnings recessions in their history. More than half of the 4,800 firms that are listed in Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Beijing reported a decrease in their net profit for the first half of the year. This is almost as bad as the beginning of 2020, when the majority of companies reported their worst earnings season ever.
But diagnostic companies are one of the biggest moneymakers during the pandemic. They are benefiting from the enormous demand for testing as Beijing maintains its zero-Covid policy, which involves forced quarantines, mass mandatory testings, and snap lockdowns. This policy has resulted in an enormous demand for testing.
According to the government, 11.5 billion tests have been carried out in China as of April 2022, commencing when the epidemic first appeared and continuing until that month.
It is possible that this number has greatly increased since then, as analysts working for Soochow Securities recently calculated that 10.8 billion tests had been carried out during the three months spanning April, May, and June.
The costs could end up being a significant burden on the finances of the Chinese government, which have already taken a beating due to the decline in property sales. In the month of May, officials in Beijing made it quite apparent that the costs for routine Covid testing were to be borne by the provincial and city governments.
According to a prediction made by Goldman Sachs earlier this year, the direct cost of conducting Covid tests could reach a total of 200 billion yuan ($30.1 billion) from May until the end of the year if it is assumed that large cities in China, which are home to thirty percent of the country’s population, will perform the tests twice a week.
According to Goldman Sachs, the figure may increase even further if the remaining 70 percent of the population is tested as well as if the costs of putting up testing facilities and quarantine centers are taken into account.
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Asia’s Video Game Giants Are Developing New Formats And Markets
Sony, NetEase, and Tencent, Asia’s largest video game developers, continue their purchase and investment sprees as they push into new forms and, in the case of the Chinese giants, expand internationally to alleviate harsher regulation at home.
Each company’s strategy differs.
NetEase bought French game developer Quantic Dream last week, establishing its first European studio. NetEase has Japanese and U.S. gaming studios.
Tencent, which has invested in smaller gaming studios worldwide, bought a share in FromSoftware. Sony invested alongside Tencent.
Sony bought Helsinki and Berlin’s Savage Game Studios last week.
Recent mergers and acquisitions in gaming starting off 2022. In January, Microsoft offered $68.7 billion for Activision Blizzard. Soon later, Sony announced plans to buy Bungie for $3.6 billion.
Three Asian gaming companies have diverse M&A objectives.
Sony’s PlayStation has reigned for years.
Console gaming’s business model has altered. It’s not enough to sell games and hardware. It’s about milking income from games through continuous updates and subscriptions.
Sony’s acquisition of Bungie demonstrates this approach.
“Their goal is to have enough content to motivate users to buy their proprietary hardware, pay a monthly charge for PS Plus, and buy the occasional digital game through the PlayStation Store,” said Tom Wijman, market head for games at research company Newzoo.
“Buying studios is the best way to assure exclusive content for their ecosystem, especially in response to Microsoft’s acquisition spree.”
Sony is expanding beyond consoles. Last week, the Japanese behemoth stated it is putting up a specialized section to handle mobile game production, a relatively new initiative for the corporation.
The mobile video game developer Savage Game Studios was also acquired.
Wijman: Sony is leaving its comfort zone to stay competitive.
Mobile gaming accounts for more than 50% of the gaming market, while consoles account for 27%. Sony wants more market share.
Sony’s acquisitions will boost its IP and game catalog as it expands into mobile gaming.
Tencent and NetEase face a tougher local market, increasing the importance of their international investments and acquisitions.
Last year, Chinese censors limited the time under-18s could play online video games and froze new releases. In China, regulators must approve games for release and monetization. In April, approvals resumed.
Covid-19’s reappearance in China and subsequent lockdowns have hampered economic progress. Some of China’s internet heavyweights, including Tencent, had their worst quarter of revenue growth.
Tencent and NetEase have sought development abroad through acquisitions and investments.
Tencent and NetEase built their gaming businesses in China. Wijman said these two companies will speed their global expansion as their home market becomes more controlled.
Tencent owns or invests in Riot Games, developer of League of Legends.
NetEase focuses on purchasing high-profile IP. The Hangzhou-based firm can publish a Star Wars game after acquiring Quantic Dream. NetEase has Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings mobile games.
For the two giants, owning studios behind international major hits in gaming is a critical strategy.
NetEase has been less aggressive than Tencent in deals, although it’s stepped up in the last year.
Both firms’ investment strategies include console ambitions. NetEase and Tencent grew by focusing on PC and mobile gaming, not consoles, which were outlawed in China until 2014.
Both companies are focusing on console gaming.
This year, NetEase hired a console veteran to oversee its Japanese gaming studio. TiMi Studio, a Tencent-owned developer, opened offices in Montreal and Seattle.
Both firms can gain console IP by acquiring and investing in other gaming studios.
Tighter regulation in China and the search for expansion could drive NetEase and Tencent’s investment and acquisition strategies.
If Chinese government regulation continues to squeeze NetEase and Tencent in their native markets, they may be interested in M&A, Wijman added. “Their global expansion plans just began.”
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Royal Caribbean is Installing SpaceX’s Starlink.
Royal Caribbean, which is a subsidiary of Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises, recently made the announcement that it plans to equip its whole fleet of ships with the satellite internet service provided by SpaceX under the brand name Starlink (via TechCrunch). According to the corporation, the service will make the user’s experience of the internet when they are at sea both quicker and more reliable.
It appears like Royal Caribbean is making rapid progress in deploying Starlink; the company conducted a trial run of the service on one of its ships throughout the course of the summer, and on September 5th, it will formally debut the service, beginning with a ship dubbed the Celebrity Beyond. The business anticipates having the service completely implemented throughout its whole fleet by the beginning of the first quarter of 2023.
The announcement made by Royal Caribbean does not provide any technical details, such as the number of Starlink dishes that its ships would employ or the amount of bandwidth that will be shared among several thousand guests. Nevertheless, the business assures customers that they will have access to streaming services and will be able to engage in video chats.
Starlink Maritime, the internet service provided by SpaceX that is geared specifically at usage on boats, was just released earlier this summer. At the moment, it only covers coastal seas in some sections of North and South America (including the Caribbean), Europe, and the region around Australia and New Zealand; however, SpaceX has stated that it intends to cover the majority of the world’s oceans by the first quarter of 2023.
At the present, SpaceX has a lot of things going on with the Starlink project. Its collaboration with T-Mobile to transmit text messages and phone calls to mobile devices via second-generation satellites, which are scheduled for launch the following year, is perhaps the arrangement that is most readily apparent. Additionally, the company is collaborating with Hawaiian Airlines and the charter carrier JSX to provide in-flight Wi-Fi, which is an amenity that Delta (and most likely other airlines) are also investigating. A version of Starlink designed for recreational vehicles (RVs) was just released by the business, which is good news for those of us who live on land.
According to a more recent report, the cruise sector has been having a difficult time recuperating from the pandemic since it began. Cruise lines, like many other types of businesses, have struggled with staffing shortages, which has forced some of them to cancel voyages entirely. As financial authorities such as the Chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, warn that efforts to combat inflation will “bring some pain to households and businesses,” another question that arises is whether or not people will continue to spend money on luxuries such as cruises in the face of these warnings.
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