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NASA has added five companies to the list of vendors that are cleared to bid on contracts for the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. This list, which already includes nine companies from a previous selection process, now adds SpaceX, Blue Origin, Ceres Robotics, Sierra Nevada Corporation and Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems. All of these companies can now place bids on NASA payload delivery to the lunar surface.

This basically means that these companies (which join Astrobotic Technology, Deep Space Systems, Draper Laboratory, Firefly Aerospace, Intuitive Machines, Lockheed Martin Space, Masten Space Systems, Moon Express and OrbitBeyond) can build and fly lunar landers in service of NASA missions. They’ll compete with one another for these contracts, which will involve lunar surface deliveries of resources and supplies to support NASA’s Artemis program missions, the first major goal of which is to return humans to the surface of the Moon by 2024.

These providers are specifically chosen to support delivery of heavier payloads, including “rovers, power sources, science experiments” and more, like the NASA VIPER (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover), which is hunting water on the Moon. All of these will be used both to establish a permanent presence on the lunar surface for astronautics to live and work from, as well as key research that needs to be completed to make getting and staying there a viable reality.

Artist’s concept of Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lander

NASA has chosen to contract out rides to the Moon instead of running its own as a way to gain cost and speed advantages, and it hopes that these providers will be able to also ferry commercial payloads on the same rides as its own equipment to further defray the overall price tag. The companies will bid on these contracts, worth up to $ 2.6 billion through November 2028 in total, and NASA will select a vendor for each based on cost, technical feasibility and when they can make it happen.

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos announced at this year’s annual International Astronautical Congress that it would be partnering with Draper, as well as Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, for an end-to-end lunar landing system. SpaceX, meanwhile, revealed that it will be targeting a lunar landing of its next spacecraft, the Starship, as early as 2022 in an effort to help set the stage for the 2024-targeted Artemis landing.


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Chargify, the payment management service owned by Scaleworks, has added revenue forecasting tools to its software as a service offering.

The company’s new revenue forecasting tools uses historical data and month-over-month performance pulled from a company’s billing platform.

The company says its new tool can cut forecasting down from two months to as little as two minutes.

With a suite of billing and revenue management tools, Chargify already has a good window into previous performance. And the company hopes those forecasting tools can help businesses benchmark their revenue progress.

Using the new forecasting tool, companies can pull baseline metrics from historical growth and churn data looking at three, six or 12-month averages to understand how historical trends could affect businesses, the company said.

Beyond forecasting, the toolkit from San Antonio-based Chargify will save the projections and automatically trigger benchmark tracking to actual performance alongside the baseline forecast.


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While The Inside already offers a range of made-to-order furniture like beds, headboards, chairs and ottomans, it’s aiming for the center of your living room today with the launch of its first sofa collection.

Founded by CEO Christiane Lemieux (who previously founded Dwell Studio and sold it to Wayfair) and COO Britt Bunn (who previously worked at One Kings Lane), The Inside uses technologies like digital printing and 3D modeling to rethink the furniture-buying experience — customers can choose from a variety of furniture models and fabrics, then the company will make the furniture from scratch and deliver it within weeks.

When I met with The Inside’s executive team a few weeks ago, Lemieux repeated the company’s motto of taking customers “beyond the beige,” helping them create a home that isn’t just filled with the same boring furniture as everyone else.

“We want you to love your life,” she said. “When you walk into your house, that should be the ultimate destination.”

Bunn, meanwhile, suggested that the sofa launch represents a culmination of the work the company has been doing to build out its supply chain and develop its technology.

“That’s really the centerpiece of the home, one of the first things you buy when you move into a new apartment,” she said. “We want to take all of the value props we’ve been honing for accent furniture and bring that to the sofa category. Yes, people care about price and speed, but we also want someone to feel excited and inspired to pick from one of our hundred-plus fabrics.”

The collection includes prints created in partnership with Scalamandré, SF Girl by Bay, Refinery29’s Christene Barberich, Homepolish’s Katherine Carter and fashion designers Peter Som and Clare V. The Inside says those designs can be paired with six different frames, ranging from modern sofas (where prices start at $ 1,600) to slipcover sectionals (prices start at $ 3,000), all deliverable within four weeks.


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Users of Amazon’s voice assistant will soon be able to talk to Alexa in Hindi. Amazon announced today that it has added a Hindi voice model to its Alexa Skills Kit for developers. Alexa developers can also update their existing published skills in India for Hindi.

Amazon first revealed that it would add fluent Hindi to Alexa last month during its re: MARS machine learning and artificial intelligence conference. Before, Alexa was only able to understand a few Hinglish (a portmanteau of Hindi and English) commands. Rohit Prasad, vice president and head scientist for Alexa, told Indian news agency IANS that adding Hindi to Alexa posed a “contextual, cultural as well as content-related challenge” because of the wide variety of dialects, accents and slang used in India.

Along with English, Hindi is one of India’s official languages (Google Voice Assistant also offers Hindi support). According to Citi Research, Amazon holds about a 30 percent market share, about the same as its main competitor, Walmart-backed Flipkart.


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In China, striving for accuracy in a piece of facial recognition software isn’t enough. As Alibaba’s e-wallet affiliate Alipay has recently demonstrated, the way software presents a user’s look is also crucial to its success.

On Tuesday, Alipay announced on social media platform Weibo (in Chinese) that it’s added beauty filters to its pay-with-face system inside the app. Within a week, the feature will roll out across retail stores equipped with Alipay’s face-scanning solutions.

“We are going to make you look even prettier than with a beauty camera. I bet you’ll be impressed,” Alipay wrote on Weibo.

The new feature was created to address complaints that facial recognition machines make people look ugly. A new poll (in Chinese) ran by news portal Sina Technology showed that more than 60% of respondents think they look uglier through the next-gen payments method than on a regular camera. This could be a real concern for beauty-obsessed people who, at a busy supermarket checkout, find their face displayed unflatteringly on a large computer screen.

The chase of beauty in China has spawned a handful of movers and shakers in the internet space, from Hong Kong-listed selfie-app maker Meitu to plastic surgery marketplace Soyoung that recently raised $ 180 million from a Nasdaq public listing.

Will WeChat Pay, the payments solution of messaging giant WeChat, follows Alipay’s shadow to build a similar offering? Beauty filters can be a competitive advantage to a business, if not a necessity. In an effort to draw more female users, smartphone maker Xiaomi recently joined hands with Meitu to develop new models that place more focus on selfies, stickers and graphics.

Alipay boasts more than one billion monthly active users of late. WeChat doesn’t break out the number for its payments segment but said in March the service processed more than one billion daily transactions.


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