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SpaceNews 2012 | The Year in Review: December

NASA's Curiosity rover. Credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems composite

NASA says it will send another rover, based on the design for the car-sized Curiosity rover, to the martian surface in 2020.

Europe’s GMES satellite system is facing a 35 percent cut to its proposed budget as the EU hunts for budget savings.

The National Research Council releases a congressionally chartered report that says NASA lacks a cohesive strategy and has failed to sell President Barack Obama’s asteroid-exploration plan to the agency’s rank and file.

A company called Golden Spike, led by former NASA science boss Alan Stern, unveils commercial plans for crewed missions to the Moon costing $1.5 billion apiece.

The U.S. Air Force awards two separate contracts to SpaceX to launch experimental satellites.

The merger of DigitalGlobe and GeoEye is approved by shareholders of both companies, but the antitrust review process pushes the expected closure of the deal to early 2013.

The European version of Russia’s Soyuz rocket successfully places the French Pleiades 1B high-resolution optical Earth observation satellite into orbit. With the identical Pleiades 1A already in orbit, Astrium Services — given an exclusive license to market Pleiades imagery —plans to go after business won up to now by DigitalGlobe and GeoEye.

Managers of Europe’s Galileo navigation constellation hope Galileo’s PRS, equivalent to the jam-resistant military code on the U.S. GPS satellites, will be installed on U.S. and other allied military gear as part of dual-use receivers.

North Korea successfully launches a satellite into orbit for the first time. This comes after a failed attempt in April.

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