In today’s Bulldog wrapup of science and technology news:

  • Hundreds honor 3 astronauts lost in Apollo fire 50 years ago
  • Microsoft beats 2Q forecasts as focus shifts from Windows
  • Comcast to offer wireless service
  • Google’s Pixel phone shines despite misgauging demand

The details:

  • Hundreds honor 3 astronauts lost in Apollo fire 50 years ago

Moonwalkers and dozens of others who took part in NASA’s storied Apollo program paid tribute Thursday to the three astronauts killed in a fire 50 years ago.

On the eve of the Apollo 1 anniversary, hundreds gathered at Kennedy Space Center to honor Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. They died during a countdown rehearsal at the launch pad, inside their burning spacecraft, on Jan. 27, 1967

On Friday, NASA is opening an Apollo 1 exhibit featuring the hatch that prevented the three astronauts from escaping. It has been concealed for the past half-century along with the capsule. The families of Grissom, White and Chaffee got an early look Wednesday evening at the display at the visitor complex, and liked what they saw.

[VIDEO: Watch a video from NASA about the salute at ]

“Really awesome,” said daughter Sheryl Chaffee, who just retired from NASA. “It’s very fitting. We all feel like it’s about time.”

The Apollo 1 fire — NASA’s first space tragedy — has long been overshadowed by the 1986 Challenger and 2003 Columbia accidents. The 14 lost shuttle astronauts also were recognized Thursday, along with seven other U.S. astronauts killed in plane crashes.

The anniversaries of all three big accidents fall within days: Apollo 1 on Jan. 27, Challenger on Jan. 28 and Columbia on Feb. 1.

Among the many astronauts attending Thursday’s ceremony were the two surviving crew members of Apollo 11, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, as well as Apollo 16 moonwalker Charlie Duke and Apollo 10’s Thomas Stafford.

Collins, who orbited the moon in 1969 while Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed on it, said Apollo 1 never launched, but in many ways was as important as later flights.

“Without Apollo 1 and the lessons learned from it,” he noted, a fire probably would have occurred on a flight in space and seriously stalled the moon program.

“Yes, Apollo 1 did cause three deaths, but I believe it saved more than three later,” Collins said. “It slowed things down for a year or so,” but spacecraft improvements enabled Apollo missions to get going by the fall of 1968, pick up speed, and land on the moon on July 20, 1969.

  • Microsoft beats 2Q forecasts as focus shifts from Windows

Microsoft Corp. reported yet another quarter of stronger-than-expected results on Thursday, thanks to its focus on online services and business software rather than its legacy Windows operating system.

Microsoft says it earned $5.2 billion, or 66 cents per share, in the final three months of the year, up from $5.02 billion a year earlier.

Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, came to 84 cents per share. The average estimate of 16 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for 79 cents per share.

The software maker posted revenue of $24.1 billion in the period. Adjusted revenue was $26.1 billion, also topping Wall Street forecasts. Nine analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $25.2 billion.

As sales of Windows PCs decline, CEO Satya Nadella has been pouring money and resources into remote data centers that deliver the company’s services online to smartphones, tablets and other devices.

Businesses and government agencies are increasingly turning to such “cloud computing” services, which again helped boost Microsoft’s revenue, just as it did in the previous quarter.

Microsoft closed its $26 billion purchase of professional networking service LinkedIn in December.

  • J&J to spend $30 billion on Swiss drugmaker Actelion

Johnson & Johnson will buy Swiss drugmaker Actelion in a $30 billion deal that both secures promising research and bolsters the product portfolio controlled by the U.S. health care giant.

Much of Actelion’s research operation will be spun off into a separate company in which J&J will own a minority stake. The U.S. conglomerate will then buy Actelion’s seven drugs that are currently on the market and two potential treatments in late-stage testing.

  • Comcast to offer wireless service

Your TV provider may soon become your phone company. Which seems only fair, because your phone company also wants to be your TV provider.

In the next few months, cable giant Comcast will start selling wireless service, just as AT&T and Verizon already do. Charter, the No. 2 cable company, also has a mobile plan. Meanwhile, the largest wireless carriers — AT&T and Verizon — have launched digital TV services.

The wireless companies are also developing a faster, more reliable version of the mobile internet that could compete with cable’s broadband.

  • Google’s Pixel phone shines despite misgauging demand

The Pixel phone, Google’s answer to Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy, is off to a promising start — but might have done even better had Google managed consumer demand as smartly as the device’s sleek design.

Although Google hasn’t released sales figures, industry researchers say the Pixel has been a hot item since its October debut was greeted with mostly glowing reviews and the biggest marketing blitz in Google’s 18-year history.

But there were missed opportunities.

Google didn’t have enough Pixels available to meet demand. Rather than wait several weeks, many consumers interested in the Pixel probably bought an iPhone, Galaxy or another phone instead. And these people aren’t likely to need a phone replacement for another year or two.