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SpaceNews 2012 | The Year in Review: January

Intelsat-MDA Corp. servicing spacecraft. Credit: MDA Corp. artist's concept

Intelsat and Canadian space robotics specialist MDA Corp. abandon plans to collaborate on an in-orbit satellite servicing venture that would have begun by refueling several Intelsat satellites. The companies cite the lack of U.S. government interest as key to their decision.

An expert panel appointed by the U.S. government determines that a hybrid satellite-terrestrial wireless broadband network proposed by LightSquared would pose unacceptable interference to important GPS applications, including aviation safety. The ruling deals an apparent death blow to LightSquared’s plan.

The U.S. government announces it will work with the European Union (EU) to draft an international code of conduct for space activity after one official acknowledges that Washington rejected one originally proposed by the EU as too restrictive.

France’s first very-high-resolution civil Earth observation satellite, Pleiades 1A, enters operations following a mid-December launch.

U.S., Russian and European sensors combine to provide a fairly accurate prediction of the likely re-entry point of Russia’s large Phobos-Grunt Mars probe, which failed to reach its intended Mars trajectory orbit in November.

Russian space chief Vladimir Popovkin suggests that sabotage might be behind a rash of Russian space failures, including the Mars-bound mission.

Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and New Zealand agree to invest a combined $650 million in the U.S. Air Force’s Wideband Global Satcom communications system. The deal enables the purchase of an additional satellite from Boeing and gives these U.S. allies access to the full 10-satellite constellation.

Russia announces plans to invest the equivalent of $640 million in 2012 in the Glonass satellite navigation constellation.

NASA adds $375 million to Lockheed Martin’s $6.4 billion Orion crew vehicle contract so the company can buy a Delta 4 rocket to launch a prototype in 2014.

The Indian government bars several ex officials including Madhavan Nair, former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, from serving in future posts following a satellite leasing scandal.

Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Japan’s biggest satellite manufacturer, is temporarily barred from doing business with the Japanese government after publicly admitting it had overcharged on unspecified contracts.

U.S. Department of Defense for the first time publicly discloses plans to trim spending on commercial satellite imagery as part of a wider plan to cut overall spending by $259 billion over five years. The proposed cut later drives commercial imaging satellite operators DigitalGlobe and GeoEye to agree to a merger.

Japan moves to relax longstanding restrictions on military space development.

The U.S. Aerospace Industries Association lobbying organization releases a report that says U.S. export restrictions and declining defense spending are conspiring to erode the satellite component industrial base, damaging national security.

The second of NASA’s twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory spacecraft enters lunar orbit to begin mapping the interior of Earth’s satellite.

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich tells voters in Florida that he wants the U.S. to build a permanent Moon base by 2020.

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