Paul Allen, AT&T-Mo, Clearwire: Seattle’s Weekly Rewind

12/16/11Follow @curtwoodward

Billionaires in space! This week started out with a big announcement from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who is bankrolling a new company that aims to make private spaceflight more routine by launching rockets from the belly of an airplane—the biggest one ever built.

Allen said it’ll probably cost him 10 times the nearly $30 million he spent on a previous space project, the SpaceShipOne craft. He’s enlisted some big names for the company—known as Stratolaunch—including aerospace guru Burt Rutan and PayPal founder Elon Musk, who happens to own a rocket company. A former NASA administrator, Mike Griffin, is a Stratolaunch board member.

Also at the announcement (just to watch) was Allen pal and former Microsoft software chief Charles Simonyi, the only private citizen to fly to space twice (he paid his own way with the Russians). Simonyi said he thought Allen’s project was audacious and doable, and said he’d return to the great beyond a third time aboard a Stratolaunch craft—provided his wife approves, and the price is right.

Also making headlines this week around the Seattle area:

AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, and the U.S. Justice Department postponed the antitrust lawsuit over AT&T’s desire to buy Bellevue, WA-based T-Mobile USA. This followed AT&T and Deutsche Telekom (the parent company of T-Mobile) pulling their merger application from the FCC, and signals the possibility of a different deal in an effort to please regulators.

Clearwire netted about $715 million in a stock sale, money that was sorely needed for the Bellevue-based wireless supplier to upgrade its fourth-generation network to the faster long-term evolution, or LTE, technology that is becoming the industry standard. Majority shareholder Sprint (NYSE: S) ponied up about a little less than half the money.

—I took a look behind the scenes of Zillow‘s new app for the Kindle Fire, Amazon’s bargain-priced tablet. Zillow (NASDAQ: Z) made a big deal out of being the only real estate app with maps on the Kindle Fire, and for good reason: There’s a bit of a workaround involved because … Next Page »

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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