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2008 In Review: The Year In Aerospace

The past year saw the rise of two new commercial space launch ventures, and new achievements for a pair of established companies.... most notably SpaceX, which finally accomplished its first wholly-successful Falcon 1 rocket launch ahead of winning a lucrative NASA contract.

Speaking of the space agency, NASA sent four shuttle missions into orbit, significantly expanding the International Space Station... and its Mars Phoenix lander sent valuable new data from the surface of the Red Planet. Alas, the year ends on some discordant notes, as the viability and future of the troubled Constellation program remains in limbo, while the technical merits of the Ares I booster rocket remain in question. 

January
February

March
  • Presidential contenders offer their views on the future of the space program ahead of the Texas primary
  • A new, innovative, and very cool (and, somewhat ominous) "micro-air vehicle" makes its first flight. The RoboSwift -- developed by aerospace engineering students at Delft University of Technology, in cooperation with the Experimental Zoology Group of Wageningen University, Netherlands -- later attempted to imitate its feathered namesake, with less-than stellar results
  • "Konichiwa, domo arigato and banzai!" Those were the words of STS-123 Commander Dominic Gorie, after NASA mission controllers announced everything was ready for the nighttime launch of the shuttle Endeavour. The shuttle blasted off March 11, carrying the first of three components of Japan's new massive "Kibo" laboratory

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