Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit to attempt its first rocket launch from a 747 aircraft this weekend - CNBC
Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit is set to conduct its first orbital rocket launch on Saturday.
Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit is set to conduct its first orbital rocket launch as early as Saturday, in the final test of its Boeing 747 aircraft-based system. Virgin Orbit's modified aircraft is scheduled to take off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California at 1 p.m. EDT and fly out over the Pacific Ocean. If all the company's systems are ready, the aircraft will release the LauncherOne rocket, which will then fire its engine and head for space. The company plans to use the rocket to launch satellites, with the "air launch" system giving a schedule flexibility that Virgin Orbit touts over more common ground-based launch systems like those of SpaceX and Rocket Lab. Virgin Orbit is a spin-off of Branson's Virgin Galactic space tourism company. While both of the companies launch spacecraft from the air rather than the ground that's where the similarities end. Virgin Orbit uses a former commercial jet and will launch satellites the size of refrigerators to orbit, while Virgin Galactic has a one-of-a-kind aircraft and plans to send paying tourists on rides at the edge of space. Last year the company conducted a drop test of a rocket from the 747, in a final key test before this first launch. Virgin Orbit told CNBC on Wednesday that last week it conducted a wet dress rehearsal in preparation for this launch, fueling up the rocket and flying with it to verify it's ready. The company has a four-hour window in which to launch on Saturday, as well as Sunday and Monday. The company has yet to make the final decision on which day it plans to launch, although the back-up launch windows are for similar times of the day. Once done testing, Virgin Orbit has over a dozen launches lined. Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart told CNBC last year that the majority of those launches are for spacecraft from private companies, with only one for NASA and another for the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit. But Virgin Orbit has been regularly speaking with the U.S. military about the applications of its technology. Branson met with Air Force leadership last year to discuss Virgin Orbit's capabilities. Following the meeting, Air Force acquisitions head Dr. Will Roper said he was "very excited about small launch," because "if you lose a satellite" you can "put another one up at the time you need it." Subscribe to CNBC PRO for exclusive insights and analysis, and live business day programming from around the world.
Microsoft stock is up because businesses want secure video conferencing, says Robert Herjavec - CNBC
"The use of Teams at the corporate enterprise level is really taking off," the "Shark Tank" investor said on CNBC's "Squawk Alley."
Cybersecurity entrepreneur Robert Herjavec said Thursday that Microsoft's stock has been lifted by businesses who want secure video conferencing during the coronavirus pandemic. "The use of Teams at the corporate enterprise level is really taking off," the "Shark Tank" investor said on CNBC's "Squawk Alley." "I think that's one of the reasons Microsoft's stock is doing so well." Shares of Microsoft rose 3% to $177 each on Thursday. While the stock sits about 7% below its February high, it is up 12.2% year to date. The S&P 500, by contrast, is down about 13% in 2020. Teams, which lets people exchange chat messages and hold video calls, is part of the Office 365 subscriptions that also includes access to Word and Excel. Herjavec, founder and CEO of cybersecurity firm Herjavec Group, said his company has recently turned to Teams as work-from-home policies in response to the coronavirus pandemic changed how business is conducted. "When all of this first happened we wanted to use Zoom because all our customers use Zoom but I've got to tell you, some of the security issues are really pretty bad within Zoom," he said. Zoom has seen dramatic usage increases as the Covid-19 outbreak forced millions of people to stay at home. While initially targeted toward enterprise use, the company's service has been adopted by schools and people who want to host virtual happy hours with friends, for example. But its newfound popularity has brought about privacy concerns, for which the company has apologized and vowed to fix. Herjavec told CNBC earlier this month that in general his company, which provides cybersecurity products and services to business, has seen a spike in security breaches. He said the pandemic has created "the golden age for hackers." In addition to companies like his own now turning to Teams, Herjavec said his firm also sees an increased reliance on Webex, the video conferencing service by Cisco. Herjavec's comments Thursday came shortly after Verizon announced its acquisition of BlueJeans, another video conferencing platform. The increased use of these services will likely outlast the coronavirus crisis, Herjavec argued. "Customer meetings will change forever. In the past, I never thought that I could do a Zoom call or a Teams call with the CEO of a company I'm trying to sell to," he said. "In the future, I don't think my customers will want me to come and see them." Also on Thursday, Microsoft announced a deal with the National Basketball Association to use its Azure cloud and Surface tablets. Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank," on which Robert Herjavec is a co-host.