Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Notes from Commercial Space

For those of you who don't have enough space stories to read over the holiday season, here are five items currently being tracked:
Dr. Robert Richards.
    Mike Pley
    • Canadian space icon Macdonald Dettwiler (MDA) continues its exceptional run of good luck, according to the December 13th, 2010 Canadian Press article "Quebec invests $9m to aid MacDonald, Dettwiler expand Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue plant." According to the article, the money comes on top of a no-interest loan of $9 million and "an additional $900,000" to help train employees. The funds will "allow MDA to make investments they would not have done otherwise," according to Quebec premier Jean Charest who is quoted in the article. According to an earlier December 3rd, 2010 Ottawa Citizen article "The $25-Billion Question Who gets what... and why" a total of $158.6 million had been spend up until that time in fiscal year 2010 by the various Canadian government departments for a series of MDA contracts relating to satellite and military surveillance technologies. This is up 71% from fiscal year 2009, when the government halted the sale of the BC firm to a US company for security reasons and the December 13th announcement will only add additional revenue to MDA bottom line.

      • And finally, US astronaut Donald R. Pettit, known around NASA as an uncommonly gifted handyman capable of rebuilding a jet engine in his garage workshop (at least according to the November 14th, 2008 New York Times article "Handyman to Return to His Space Workshop") can also claim a patent for a zero-gravity coffee cup, which used the wetting angle to carry the coffee along a crease to permit drinking and avoid the necessity of a straw. A newer version of the cup (perhaps with a jaunty Canadian flag on the outside plus a couple of pounds of Tim Horton's coffee) seems like an appropriate present for Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who is currenty training to become the second Canadian to take part in a long-duration spaceflight aboard the ISS beginning in 2012.
      Mmm... Now I know what I want for Christmas.

      Anyway, happy holidays to all from the Commercial Space blog.

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