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04 May 07. European rocket powers to record. The Astra 1L satellite weighed about 4,500kg at launch. Europe’s Ariane 5 rocket has set a new benchmark for a commercial launch – lifting into orbit a two-satellite payload weighing 9.4 tonnes. The immense, 50m-long vehicle powered away from Kourou in French Guiana at 1929 local time (2229 GMT). The Astra 1L and Galaxy 17 platforms it put in space will deliver TV and other services to Europe and North America. Friday’s mission represented the second launch of the year for the Ariane 5 and its 32nd flight overall. The launch was delayed by a day because of poor weather over the spaceport on Thursday. (Source: BBC)

03 May 07. Chips could run faster and be more energy efficient thanks to a process from IBM that copies nature’s creation of seashells and snowflakes. The process, called airgap, enables trillions of microscopic vacuum holes to be placed between the copper wire in chips to act as an insulator. It solves the problem of electrical energy leaking between wires, which creates unwanted heat. IBM says the chips will run 35% faster and consume 15% less energy.
The company has developed a method of controlling the interaction between self-assembling molecules, called diblock copolymers, to create the vacuum holes. Mr Edlestein, IBM Fellow and chief scientist of the self-assembly airgap project, said: “We have managed to harness the kinds of processes we see in nature to make regular patterns – such as the layers of enamel on your teeth, or the shape of a seashell if you look under a microscope. The process mimics the way snowflakes are developed. “In this case we choose molecules that have a certain shape and certain molecular forces between them, and when they are mixed properly and baked they naturally on their own behaviour assemble themselves into regular arrays of certain patterns.” While the self-assembled polymers were developed back in 2001, it is the first time anyone has been able to produce mass quantities and integrate them into a manufacturing process with high yields. Dr Douglas Paul, senior research associate at Cambridge University, said: “The big breakthrough is getting it into a manufacturing process and producing 300mm diameter wafers with the process working. “This is never easy as the yields need to be near perfect for every single process stage and there are hundreds in a full wafer to get circuits to operate with the billion transistors or so now in production.” The controlled interaction between the molecules creates a series of evenly-spaced dots – each one only 20-nanometres in diameter. One nanometre is about a million times smaller than the size of a pinhead. (Source: BBC)

10 May 07. Intelligent Automation Corporation (IAC)) announced that the
U.S. Army has approved two additional Air Worthiness Releases (AWRs) for U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopters equipped with IAC’s Condition Based Maintenance (CBM) Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) systems. The Air Worthiness Releases (AWR) were awarded as a result of the demonstrated performance of IAC’s 1209 Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS). Two other AWRs are under U.S. Army consideration.

30 Apr 07. Russia has launched a new strategic missile submarine, the Yuri Dolgorukiy, to be armed with the Bulava ballistic missile. This weapon is modified from the land-launched Topol-M missile (given the NATO designation SS-27). The launching took place at Severodvinsk, site of the massive Sevmash shipyard on Russia’s Arctic coast, on April 15, 2007. The last ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) to be completed in the then-Soviet Union was a Project 667BDRM (Delta IV) in 1984. Two additional submarines of this design are reported to be under construction at Sevmash — the Alexandr Nevskiy and the Vladimir Monomakh. (Source: Google)

01 May 07. Details emerge of Chinese J-11B heavy air superiority fighter

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