Friday, January 4, 2008
Hitachi said it is phasing out its small hard disk drive business as competition heats up with flash memory chips
Hitachi to phase out small hard drives
Hitachi said it is phasing out its small hard disk drive business as competition heats up with flash memory chips, and that the electronics maker will focus resources on larger-sized 2.5- and 3.5-inch drives.
Separately, another Japanese electronics maker, Fujitsu Ltd, said it has shelved its plan to launch 1.8-inch hard drives, underscoring the growing presence of NAND-type flash memory chips as the storage device of choice for portable electronics.
"We are not trying to recruit new customers for our small drives any more ... and as long as we don't win new customers, the size of the business is set to dwindle," a Hitachi spokesman said.
He said, however, Hitachi will continue to offer 1.0- and 1.8-inch hard disk drives, which are mainly used in portable music players and other mobile devices, for its existing clients.
Large-sized hard disk drives used in PCs and servers hold a cost advantage over NAND flash chips, but profitability was hit hard in the market for 1.0- and 1.8-inch drives as storage capacity has increased and prices have come down for NAND chips.
Hitachi's loss-making hard disk drive unit, which competes with larger rivals Seagate Technology and Western Digital Corp N> , shipped about 560,000 units of 1.8-inch drives in July-September, or 2.3 percent of its total hard drive shipments.
Hitachi shipped only 3,000 units of 1.0-inch drives in the three-month period.
Hitachi, which bought the hard drive unit from IBM for $2 billion in 2002, is in talks with U.S. private equity firm Silver Lake about the possibility of selling a stake in the division, sources familiar with the situation said in December.
Fujitsu announced in January 2006 that it will jointly develop 1.8-inch drives with U.S.-based Cornice Inc for consumer electronics and aims to launch a 120-gigabyte model by April-September 2007.
But a Fujitsu spokesman said on Friday the plan is now on the shelf due to growing use of NAND flash chips.
Fujitsu currently makes 2.5- and 3.5-inch drives.
Shares in Hitachi closed down 4.7 percent at 794 yen, while Fujitsu fell 3.1 percent to 730 yen, outperforming the Tokyo stock market's electrical machinery index IELEC, which lost 5.1 percent.
Hitachi Corporate Profile
Hitachi is working to improve its profitability by actively developing corporate affiliations, consolidations, mergers and acquisitions, and spin-offs to accelerate the restructuring of its group business portfolio.
In addition, we are integrating the cutting-edge dominant technologies and expertise in the Hitachi Group, including IT, biotechnology, and nanotechnology, to strategically develop and enhance our new businesses that will serve as the nucleus of our next-generation initiatives.
Posted by SANJIDA AFROJ at 10:26 PM
Software billionaires Gates and Simonyi contribute to $400 million project
A project to build a pioneering telescope in Chile got a $30 million boost Thursday with donations from Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and former company executive Charles Simonyi.
Simonyi is donating $20 million and Gates $10 million to pay for three major mirrors that will be used in the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, a nearly $400 million project that will be able to survey the entire sky every three nights — something never done before.
Astronomers anticipate surveying the heavens for 10 years, with observations starting in 2015.
“People can find out what’s going on everywhere in the sky, and no one has ever done that before — not even come close,” said Donald Sweeney, manager of the LSST Project, a partnership headquartered in Tucson and split among 23 universities, national laboratories and private entities.
The telescope is to be built on 9,000-foot Cerro Pachon in northern Chile. It will take an image every 15 seconds nightly, and its camera — the world’s largest and most powerful digital device — will read out the image in 2 seconds.
“There are lots of things that happen every night in the sky, and no one has been able to track them and detect them,” Sweeney said.
With the telescope operating, he said, scientists will be able to quickly find Earth-threatening asteroids and supernovae, and will be able to map out 100 billion galaxies.
The two donations put the amount raised at $50 million.
Project spokeswoman Suzanne Jacoby said Gates, who is due to transition out of his day-to-day role at Microsoft this year to devote more time to his charitable foundation, gave his donation directly. (Microsoft is a partner with NBC Universal in the msnbc.com joint venture.)
The other gift came from the Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, Jacoby said.
Simonyi, who took a $25 million trip to the international space station last year, said through spokeswoman Lee Keller that he was attracted to the LSST Project because of “its imaginative use of technology to create a new view of our universe.”
Gates called the telescope imaginative in its technology and approach.
“LSST is truly an Internet telescope, which will put terabytes of data each night into the hands of anyone that wants to explore it,” Gates said.
Its camera will be able to produce what Jacoby called “a flip book of the sky.”
Gates and former Microsoft exec Simonyi donate to ambitious telescope
A project to build a pioneering telescope in Chile got a $30 million (more than €20 million) boost with donations from Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and former company executive Charles Simonyi.
Simonyi is donating $20 million (€13.6 million) and Gates $10 million (€6.8 million) to pay for three major mirrors that will be used in the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, a nearly $400 million (€271 million) project that will be able to survey the entire sky every three nights — something never done before.
Astronomers anticipate surveying the heavens for 10 years, with observations starting in 2015.
"People can find out what's going on everywhere in the sky, and no one has ever done that before — not even come close," said Donald Sweeney, manager of the LSST Project, a partnership headquartered in Tucson and split among 23 universities, national laboratories and private entities.
The telescope is to be built on 9,000-foot (2,745-meter) Cerro Pachon in northern Chile. It will take an image every 15 seconds nightly, and its camera — the world's largest and most powerful digital device — will read out the image in two seconds.
There are lots of things that happen every night in the sky, and no one has been able to track them and detect them," Sweeney said.
With the telescope operating, he said, scientists will be able to quickly find Earth-threatening asteroids and exploding stars called supernovas and will be able to map out 100 billion galaxies.
The two donations put the amount raised at $50 million (€34 million).
Gates gave his donation directly, while the other gift came from the Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, Jacoby said.
Simonyi said through spokeswoman Lee Keller that he was attracted to the project through "its imaginative use of technology to create a new view of our universe."
Gates called the telescope imaginative in its technology and approach.
"LSST is truly an Internet telescope, which will put terabytes of data each night into the hands of anyone that wants to explore it," Gates said.
Posted by SANJIDA AFROJ at 9:29 PM
Apple Computer Inc. CEO Steve Jobs introdued the iPhone one year ago.
A Little 'Intel' on Apple's Next Move
Wondering what Steve Jobs will announce in his Macworld keynote on Jan. 15? The newest chips from Apple's sole supplier offer some intriguing hints.
With Macworld Expo just days away, the pre-"Stevenote" buzz is building fast. The rumors about what Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs might unveil in his keynote speech run the gamut from a new movie-rental service for iTunes and Apple TV to a new tablet PC.
But when guessing what Apple (AAPL) will do in the coming year, it's particularly helpful to look at the roadmap of Intel (INTC), which has been Apple's only chip supplier since 2006. And from the looks of things, the chipmaker may help lead Apple into uncharted, possibly lucrative, territory starting in late 2008.
Subnotebooks: A Perfect Fit
A lot of the speculation has focused on Apple's apparent plan to introduce a small notebook computer, and I think these rumors are pretty close to the mark. For one thing, beyond switching from PowerPC chips to Intel processors in 2006, Apple hasn't made any serious revisions to its notebook line in some time. And the most obvious hole in Apple's computer lineup is in the subnotebook category. Right now, the smallest MacBook sports a 13.3-inch screen and weighs a hefty 5 pounds.
That's why it's time for Apple to launch a new product some are calling the MacBook Mini, with a screen of less than 10 inches and weighing no more than 2 pounds. A new family of Intel chips named Silverthorne may go a long way toward helping Apple get there. These chips will be notable for their very small size, relatively beefy computing power, and very low power consumption.
The first chip of the Silverthorne family, code-named Menlow, is expected to arrive in the first half of this year, probably before June. A second, known as Moorestown, due in late 2008 or early 2009, will be built on Intel's 32-nanometer manufacturing process, which means it will be even smaller and more powerful and it will consume even less power than the Menlow. This will make it a contender for use not only in subnotebooks, but in a new generation of iPhone devices.
There are hints from other vendors using Intel chips that the subnotebook category could be a winner in 2008. Consider the Asus Eeepc, a tiny, $350 notebook with a 7-inch screen that weighs less than a pound and uses an Intel Celeron chip. It runs Linux, supports Wi-Fi, and from what I'm hearing has sold some 400,000 units worldwide. There's also the tiny LifeBook U810 from Fujitsu that sports a 5.6-inch rotating screen, weighs about a pound and a half, and uses an Intel A110 mobile chip.
Expanding the iPhone Universe
Although the tiny Silverthorne is not as powerful as Intel's top-of-the-line Core2 or Core2 Duo, it will support the x86 instruction set that makes a PC chip a PC chip. That's especially noteworthy in terms of the iPhone. Right now, the main chip inside the iPhone comes not from Intel, but from Samsung. And the Samsung chip is not an x86 chip, but one based on a core from Britain's ARM Holdings (ARMHY).
The possibility of squeezing an x86 chip like Silverthorne inside a future iPhone would make adapting software from a future Mac computer for Apple's handheld substantially easier. (This assumes that Apple makes good on its promise to make the iPhone software development process easy and open.) Suddenly, the iPhone would be capable of running pretty much any Mac software with few, if any, programming changes.
While Intel's tiny new chips will be an important factor, Apple may have more dramatic changes in store.
News Flash: No Hard Drive?
I'd expect the new little notebook to ship without a traditional hard drive, relying instead on at least 32 gigabytes of flash memory for storage. Already the world's largest consumer of NAND flash memory after SanDisk (SNDK), Apple is in a better position to popularize solid-state storage in mainstream computing devices than any other vendor. Long-term supply contracts with Samsung, Toshiba (TOSBF), and Micron (MU) give Apple plenty of incentive to design software that can take advantage the unique properties of flash memory. Windows-based vendors such as Dell (DELL) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) will have to follow its lead.
But will this new mini-MacBook also get a touch screen like the iPhone's? Perhaps, but probably not. The bigger the screen, the more it will cost. I think that means Apple will skip the multitouch screen to keep the retail price manageable.
The MacBook Mini could conceivably be unveiled as the "Just One More Thing" that appears at the end of every Jobs keynote. It's doubtful the machine would be available for immediate sale because Menlow isn't thought to be shipping in volume yet. But Apple and Intel could surprise us. Intel shipped some 210 million PC chips last year, 7 million of which were for Macs, making Apple one of Intel's most important customers and giving it a reason to move faster than anyone expects.
About Steve Jobs>(Steve P. Jobs
Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Director, Apple Inc.)
Steven P. Jobs serves as Chief Executive Officer of Apple Inc. (formerly known as Apple Computer Inc.). Mr. Jobs co-founded Apple Computer Inc., ("Apple") in 1976 and Pixar in 1986, the Academy-Award-winning animation studios. He served as Chief Executive Officer of Pixar since February 1986. Mr. Jobs served as Chief Executive Pixar Animation Studios Inc., and serves as its Chairman. He also Co-founded NeXT Software Inc. and served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer ... from October 1985 to February 1997, when it was acquired by Apple . He then served as an Advisor to Apple on a limited basis and served as Interim Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Jobs has been Chairman and Director of Pixar since March 1991 and February 1986, respectively. He has been a Director of Walt Disney Co. since May 2006. He has been a Director of Apple Computer Inc., since 1997. Mr. Jobs serves as a Member of Advisory Board of Current TV LLC (formerly known as Newsworld International Channel). He served as a Director of Gap Inc. since September 1999. Mr. Jobs grew up in the apricot orchards which later became known as Silicon Valley, and still lives there with his wife and three children.
Macworld surprise may be a slim laptop
Higher-capacity model of the iPhone also expected at Apple's closely watched Expo
Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs's annual Macworld surprise may be a slimmed-down laptop and a higher-capacity model of the iPhone.
Jobs traditionally uses the Macworld Expo this month to showcase new products. Last time, it was the iPhone and Apple TV; the year before, faster Macs with Intel Corp. chips.
Piper Jaffray & Co. analyst Gene Munster and UBS AG's Benjamin Reitzes expect Jobs to capitalize on demand for the Mac by introducing a smaller, lighter version of Apple's MacBook notebooks. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analyst David Bailey anticipates a version of the iPhone with 16-gigabytes of storage, double the capacity of the current $399 device.
There's always a possibility they'll announce something that no one has thought of yet," said New York-based Bailey. He recommends investors buy Apple shares.
Speculation about what Cupertino, California-based Apple might introduce contributed to an average five-per-cent rise in the shares between Dec. 17 and the first day of Macworld Expo in each of the past three years, said Munster, who is in Minneapolis.
The shares have more than doubled this year, making them the sixth best- performers on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.
Analysts speculated that Apple would add a "sub-notebook" or "ultra-portable" personal computer. The machine would be smaller than the smallest Mac notebook today, which has a 13-inch screen. Apple also sells the MacBook Pro, which have 15-inch or 17-inch displays.
While sub-notebooks accounted for less than eight per cent of portable PCs sold in each of the past two years, shipments may rise 20 per cent to nine million units in 2008, said researcher IDC in Framingham, Massachusetts. The machines typically have 12-inch or smaller screens and weigh less than four pounds (1.81 kilograms.)
"Ultra-portables don't sell a ton," said Andy Hargreaves of Pacific Crest Securities in Portland, Oregon, who expects Apple to introduce one in January. "Then again, music players didn't sell a ton until Apple came out with the iPod."
The company last introduced a sub-notebook in 1997. Called the PowerBook 2400c, it had a 10.4-inch display and weighed 4.4 pounds. Prices for sub-notebooks start at about $1,500, more expensive than standard notebooks, IDC analyst Richard Shim said.
A slimmed-down Apple notebook will cost less than the $1,999 MacBook Pro and have a screen between 11-inches to 13-inches, Munster said this week in a note, citing unidentified Asian component suppliers.
Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc., the world's top PC makers, dominate the market for notebook PCs and offer ultra- light designs. Still, Apple's reputation may help lure customers.
COULD DOMINATE SEGMENT
"It's a segment they could dominate because of their ability to create stylish products," said Goldman's Bailey, who doesn't expect a smaller notebook until the second half of 2008. "It's 10 per cent of the market they didn't have access to previously."
Any new device Jobs unveils will expand the Macintosh-iPod-iPhone trio that have contributed to record sales and profit. IPod shipments may climb as high as 25 million units this quarter on demand for the slimmer Nano and new Touch models introduced in September, Munster said.
Sales of the iPhone, released in the U.K., Germany and France last month, may reach 2.1 million units over the holidays, said Reitzes.
Apple had sold almost 1.4 million phones in the first three months after releasing the music-and-video-playing device in June in the U.S.
Apple may increase the capacity of the iPhone to 16 gigabytes while keeping the price at $399, Munster said. The company will probably introduce a version that works on high- speed networks in 2008, he said.
Jobs, 52, also may introduce a larger-screen handheld device for playing music and video and surfing the Web, said Andy Neff, an analyst at Bear Stearns & Co. in New York. Apple may also unveil a new version of Apple TV, a $299 device that connects to TVs and lets people watch movies and shows stored on their PCs.
Apple needs to add more movies to its iTunes store to spur demand for Apple TV, which hasn't been a big seller for the company, Neff said in an interview.
There are more than 500 movies and 550 TV shows available through iTunes.
Munster and Reitzes haven't ruled out a movie-rental service on iTunes. Apple doesn't have distribution agreements with Sony Pictures, Universal Studios, News Corp.'s Fox and Warner Brothers, Reitzes said.
"There are some hard-core fans that no matter what Jobs announces, that won't be enough," said technology commentator Scott Bourne, who hosts a weekly podcast called the Apple Phone Show.
"And there are some people for who, no matter what he says, are words from God's mouth."
Posted by SANJIDA AFROJ at 7:28 PM
Enjoy your streaming videos while you can, Chinese YouTube fans. The Chinese government announced new rules Thursday that could block all but a few video sites from reaching Chinese viewers. The regulations, posted to Web sites of China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television and the Ministry of Information Industry, require that effective Jan. 31, all online video outlets avoid politically or morally objectionable content and obtain a government-issued permit.
While the statute could limit online video to state-controlled media sites and ban foreign-owned video-hosting sites like YouTube and MySpace, it may also go unenforced, serving more as a threat to coerce video-hosting sites to police themselves. Rather than banning sites like YouTube altogether, says Ben Edelman, a professor at Harvard Business School and an Internet filtering researcher, Beijing's new rules may be "a shot across the bow."
Because the government lacks the technology to filter video as selectively as it filters text, Edelman says, it may hope to scare sites into censoring the content that the government wants banned. That digital contraband would include politically sensitive messages about racial minorities and human rights as well as sexual images. "Would the government actually block all video sites, save for registered sites, in one fell swoop?" he asks. "Maybe not. Their goals are just as well served by the threat."
MySpace China, a Chinese-language version of the News Corp. (nyse: NWS - news - people ) social networking site, already practices some degree of self-censorship. The site has been criticized by bloggers for demanding that users report one another when they spot posts with objectionable political content. Its terms of service prohibit members from discussions that would "leak state secrets or undermine the government," or "spread rumors and disturb the social order." MySpace China, however, hosts no video. Neither MySpace China nor its U.S.-based counterpart could be reached for comment. It remains to be seen whether the original MySpace, one of the most popular U.S. video sites, would follow MySpace China's self-censorship model to obey the Chinese government's new rule.
Would YouTube, which is owned by Google (nasdaq: GOOG - news - people ), be willing to censor content to comply with tightened Chinese regulations? "We obey local laws wherever we have local sites," says YouTube spokesperson Ricardo Reyes. In fact, YouTube does host a Hong Kong site, which would fall under Chinese law. But its terms of service do not contain the political prohibitions included in MySpace China's terms of service.
If foreign video sites are forced to cooperate with a repressive regime rather than lose their Chinese audience, they could face the same public relations disasters as other tech companies that have ventured into China. Google, for instance, was pilloried by human rights groups for censoring search results on its Chinese site in January 2006. And last October, after Yahoo! (nasdaq: YHOO - news - people ) handed e-mail information over to the Chinese government that helped jail a dissident journalist, the company's chief executive was denounced as a "moral pygmy" in front of a U.S. congressional subcommittee and forced to apologize publicly to the journalist's mother.
But whether the new regulations are actually a tacit order to censor content is still unclear. John Palfrey, a Harvard Law professor and researcher at the Open Net Initiative, worries that video sites without government ties could be wiped out altogether in preparation for the public relations battles surrounding the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. "This could be bad news for free speech and bad news for economic development," says Palfrey. "And it could make it very hard for Web 2.0 businesses to compete in China."
In fact, no one outside of the Chinese government--least of all the affected sites themselves--knows to what degree the tightened regulations will be enforced or how complicated it will be for video sites to get government permits. A statement from YouTube expresses, above all, bewilderment. "China's new regulations for online video could be a cause for concern, depending on the interpretation," it reads. "Like other companies, we are studying the new rules."
China limits Internet video to state-controlled companies
China has moved to restrict videos online, allowing only state-controlled sites to post any -- including those shared by users -- and requiring Internet providers to delete and report a variety of content.
It wasn't immediately clear how the new rules would affect YouTube and other providers that host Web sites based in other countries that are accessible from China.
A spokesman for San Bruno, California-based YouTube said the restrictions "could be a cause for concern, depending on the interpretation."
Tudou.com, which claims to be China's largest video sharing Web site, didn't immediately respond to an e-mail requesting comment.
The new regulations, which take effect on January 31, were approved by both the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television and the Ministry of Information Industry and were described on their Web sites Thursday.
Under the new policy, Web sites that provide video programming or allow users to upload video must have a permit and be either state-owned or state-controlled.
The majority of Internet video providers in China are private, according to an explanation of the regulations posted on Chinafilm.com, which is run by the state-run China Film Group.
Video that involves national secrets, hurts the reputation of China, disrupts social stability or promotes pornography will be banned. Providers must delete and report such content.
"Those who provide Internet video services should insist on serving the people, serve socialism ... and abide by the moral code of socialism," the rules say.
The permits are subject to renewal every three years and operators who commit "major" violations may be banned from providing online video programming for five years.
Adhering to the new rules could be daunting for YouTube, where about 10 hours of online video covering a wide range of topics is uploaded to the site every minute.
The video-sharing site, which is owned by Google Inc., already faces allegations that it should do more to block the distribution of clips that infringe on copyrights.
None of YouTube's video-hosting computers is in China, but the government there could still block access to the site from within China.
YouTube hopes the rules won't cut it off from the rapidly growing number of Chinese residents with Internet access, spokesman Ricardo Reyes said.
"We believe that the Chinese government fully recognizes the enormous value of online video and will not enforce the regulations in a way that could deprive the Chinese people of its benefits and potential for business and economic development, education and culture, communication, and entertainment," Reyes said.
China ranks as the world's second largest Internet market with a total audience of about 164 million, including people who surf the Web from public computers, according to the research firm comScore Inc.
Only the United States, with about 182 million Internet users, boasts a larger online audience.
YouTube says people around the world watch more than 200 million videos on its site each day. It declined to specify how much of its traffic comes from China.
Google and other major Internet companies like Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp. all have set up operations in China in hopes of making more money from online advertising as the country's economy grows.
But doing business in China also has required the companies to obey laws that stifle and punish free speech, raising the ire of U.S. politicians and human rights activists around the world.
In the biggest backlash so far, Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo was attacked in Congress after providing information about the online activities of two Chinese journalists who were subsequently imprisoned. Both journalists are serving 10-year prison sentences.
In November, Yahoo settled a lawsuit, agreeing to pay the attorneys' fees of the journalists. Yahoo also said it would "provide financial, humanitarian and legal support to these families." No other details of the settlement were disclosed
Posted by SANJIDA AFROJ at 7:05 PM
Possible Date Is Set For Atlantis to Launch
But Sensor Problem Could Delay Mission
NASA set a tentative date yesterday of Jan. 24 to launch the space shuttle Atlantis, which will carry a long-delayed European space laboratory to the international space station, while saying that additional troubleshooting may be necessary to repair a nagging problem with the external tank's backup fuel gauges. That could force a further delay until next month, officials said.
John Shannon, the deputy shuttle program manager, said the agency thinks it knows what caused the problem and how it can be solved. Engineers will begin making repairs next week at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, but 10 to 14 days of additional testing will be needed to make sure they fully understood the problem.
"To make the 24th, everything has to go right," Shannon said. "But we're also looking at February 2 if things go like we expect they'll go."
Erratic electrical readings from four sensors that measure levels of super-cold liquid hydrogen fuel in the shuttle's huge external tank halted two attempted launches last month. The problem has shown up numerous times in recent years.
After the two failures, the agency sent parts of the malfunctioning sensors to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., where they will be tested in a bath of gaseous helium starting next week. While NASA engineers now believe they have figured out why the problem occurred, Shannon left open the possibility that the launch could be further delayed if the testing at Marshall does not confirm their analysis.
Shannon called the proposed repair -- which involves soldering together parts of an electrical cable rather than relying on a pin-and-plug system -- "a simple and elegant change." A similar problem on the Atlas-Centaur rocket was solved with soldering, he said.
Atlantis has been stuck on a launchpad since Dec. 6, when the fuel sensors first failed. The sensors are a backup safety system designed to shut down the shuttle's three main engines if their fuel supply runs out, to avoid the extreme danger of running the engines and their massive fuel pumps on a dry tank.
Engineers think the problem is in an electrical connector and plug that route wires through the wall of the tank to the sensors. After similar malfunctions with the sensors in 2005 and 2006, engineers thought they had solved an electrical problem in the gauges themselves, not in the connectors.
William H. Gerstenmaier, NASA's director of space operations, said yesterday that the agency now thinks there may have been problems with the gauges and the connectors.
The Columbus space lab, which cost its European builders $2.1 billion, was ready to be added to the international space station before the 2003 space shuttle Columbia disaster. The lab will greatly increase the amount of research that can be conducted on the station once it is fully operational and the space station crew doubles to six.
Even if the shuttle is ready to launch next month, it may not have an open docking port at the space station because a Russian cargo ship is scheduled to arrive there Feb. 7. Shannon said NASA officials are discussing the schedule with the Russians.
Despite the delays in the Atlantis launch, Shannon said he is confident that NASA will be able to launch the final 13 shuttle missions by September 2010, when the remaining three space shuttles are scheduled to be retired.
NASA delays shuttle flight until at least late January to replace connector in fuel tank.
NASA on Thursday delayed the flight of space shuttle Atlantis until late January or, more likely, February to replace a suspect connector in the fuel tank.
The connector is believed to be responsible for back-to-back launch postponements last month.
Deputy shuttle program manager John Shannon said the mission to the international space station is off until at least Jan. 24. "Everything has to go exactly right for us to make the 24th," he said.
Shannon said it's more likely that the launch will move into February. The shuttle almost certainly would have to wait until a Russian cargo ship is launched on Feb. 7 and docks two days later.
Atlantis was poised to lift off in early December with a European space station lab named Columbus but fuel gauges in the external tank failed late in the countdown.
The problem reoccurred during a second launch attempt, prompting NASA to conduct a fueling test just before Christmas. That's when the trouble was traced to a connector that feeds wiring through the wall of the fuel tank. The circuitry runs between the fuel gauges in the bottom of the tank and the space shuttle.
The fuel gauges are part of a critical safety system to prevent the shuttle's main engines from running on an empty tank, and have malfunctioned off and on for more than two years. Engineers suspect a design flaw.
NASA removed the external portion of the suspect connector, along with some plugs, over the weekend. It will be another two weeks before the parts are fully analyzed, mimicking the super-cold conditions of fueling, Shannon said.
In the meantime, engineers will replace the external connector and make modifications -- essentially soldering pins and changing the material of socket inserts.
"What we're doing...is addressing what we think is the most probable cause, and there's a lot of information that points to that connector and that this is the right design fix," Shannon said.
Shannon would not estimate how long the delay might be if engineers determine that the interim solution is not enough or something else is at fault.
NASA requires at least five weeks between shuttle launches, which means that a flight by Endeavour to the space station, carrying up the first part of Japan's massive lab, will not occur Feb. 14 as planned.
Until a firm launch date is set for Atlantis, NASA will not address the timing of subsequent flights, Shannon said.
NASA faces a 2010 deadline for retiring its three shuttles and completing the space station.
Posted by SANJIDA AFROJ at 6:39 PM
Intel drops out of One Laptop Per Child program A woman checks her mobile phone as she walks past an Intel Core Duo advertisement outside a computer shop in Beijing March 26, 2007. Intel Corp said on Thursday it will drop out of the One Laptop Per Child project and resign from the board after the project's board demanded the chipmaker stop supporting other efforts in emerging markets. REUTERS/Claro Cortes
Intel drops out of One Laptop Per Child program
Intel Corp (INTC.O: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Thursday it will drop out of the One Laptop Per Child project and resign from the board after the project's board demanded the chipmaker stop supporting other efforts in emerging markets.
One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), a nonprofit project run by MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte, aimed to sell $100 laptops to the world's poor children.
But it began selling in October for $200 through a donor program to finance the program's launch.
The OLPC board "had asked Intel to end its support for non-OLPC platforms including the Classmate PC and other systems," Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said. "They wanted us to focus our support exclusively on the OLPC system."
A representative for the OLPC project was not immediately reachable.
Mulloy said Intel decided to drop out after six months of discussion.
Intel last year introduced the Classmate, a laptop for developing markets. It is likely to have other projects this year.
"We've always said there will be many solutions. The most important priority is to serve the need," he said.
One Laptop Per Child Application Development
This OLPC (One-Laptop-Per-Child) tutorial teaches you how to develop Python activities for the XO laptop. It covers the ins and outs of Sugar (the XO user interface, or UI) and the details behind activity development. You will also learn about Python programming, Sugar application program interfaces (APIs) for Python, and platform emulation with QEMU. Learn OLPC application development and help the worlds children."
Posted by SANJIDA AFROJ at 5:00 PM