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NASA highlights from 2009

Last year's biggest space projects

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2009 was a critical year for NASA. The space agency saw its very existence reviewed by the United States Human Space Flight Plan Committee and it watched as its venerable space shuttle fleet ticked off five of its remaining 10 missions. But there were plenty of other projects that took centre stage, such as the development of the next generation heavy lift rocket, Ares, and the extension of the agency's Antarctica's sea ice monitoring program as well as its ongoing Mars operations. Here we take a look at some of the more interesting projects the space programme took on in 2009.


To fly humans in space or not to fly humans in space

Arguably the project that took a ton of NASA's time this year was testifying before and providing information to the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plan Committee, which in October came to the conclusion that while NASA is the most accomplished space organisation in the world, its human spaceflight activities are at a tipping point, primarily due to a mismatch of goals and money. According to the report, NASA's fundamental conundrum is that it essentially has the resources either to build a major new system or to operate one, but not to do both.

  • To fly humans in space or not to fly humans in space
  • Space shuttle swan song?
  • Stepping up commercial space race
  • Commercial space development part 2
  • Moon bombers
  • Moon water
  • A little ice to go with all that water
  • The asteroid issue
  • Stuck in the sand
  • Mars is where it's at
  • Who wants $1M?
  • We have a rocket (sort of)
  • Ga-ga for gigabits
  • The ultimate run-flat tyre
  • The stink heard 'round the world
  • NASA network security torched
  • Hot stuff here
  • The mountain climbing robot
  • Partly cloudy with a chance of hot plasma
  • Speaking of hot plasma



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