News from around the world
Thailand revised plans for its high-speed train network, prioritising domestic rail expansion
25 August - Steve Jobs resigned, saying he could no longer "meet duties and expectations" as CEO
City of Edinburgh councillors agreed to build the tram line from the airport to St Andrew Square
E&T visited the site of the world's first private commercial spaceport in New Mexico, Spaceport America
E&T's pick of engineering news from around the world.
1. 5 August
A Dutch court ruled that the Bergermeer gas storage project, the largest in Europe, must be temporarily suspended to avoid “irreversible consequences” from possible earth tremors.
The project is an important part of the Netherlands’ plan to become a European hub for natural gas once it stops exporting gas in 2025, but has faced strong opposition locally due to fears that the change of pressure caused by injecting gas into the depleted gas field could cause strong earth tremors.
2. 23 August
Thailand revised plans for its high-speed train network, prioritising domestic rail expansion over the Sino-Southeast-Asian link planned by China.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said three routes would be constructed linking Bangkok with urban centres in the north, northeast and upper south.
The previous plan was for one high-speed line connecting Bangkok with Nong Khai province bordering Laos, some 615km away, followed by a second line stretching 980km south of the capital to Padang Basar at the Malaysian border.
3. 24 August
A former UN inspector warned that looters in the aftermath of the Libyan insurgency could seize nuclear material from a research centre near Tripoli to make a ‘dirty bomb’.
Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi previously agreed to abandon efforts to acquire nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, dismantling the country’s uranium enrichment programme.
However, the former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency said “nuclear security concerns still linger” due to large nuclear material stocks at the Tajoura research centre.
4. 25 August
Apple chief executive Steve Jobs resigned, saying he could no longer “meet duties and expectations” as CEO of the company, but said he would continue to play a leadership role.
Jobs’ resignation appears to be the result of an unspecified medical condition for which he took leave from his post in January.
Apple’s chief operating officer, Tim Cook, was quickly named chief executive of the company Jobs co-founded 35 years ago in his garage.
5. 26 August
Japan formally approved a scheme to improve investment in green energy, signalling its intentions to overhaul energy policies following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
Public confidence in atomic safety was shattered after the March earthquake and tsunami, the restart of idled plants was delayed, while costly oil and gas imports soared.
A national scheme rewarding green energy investments is planned to replace lost power generation capacity and move the country away from new nuclear investment.
6. 31 August
Norwegian pipeline operator Gassco is considering extending its offshore pipeline network to reach potential gas fields in the Barents Sea.
As oil companies look to the Arctic frontier to replace declining fields off southern Norway, Gassco wants to find the best way to extend a trunk line north and then east some 1,400km into the central Barents Sea.
7. 2 September
City of Edinburgh councillors reversed their shock decision to truncate the proposed tram route short of the city centre.
At a special meeting they agreed to build the line from the airport to St Andrew Square, having voted just a week ago to terminate the first phase at Haymarket.
The council’s chief executive Sue Bruce can now negotiate the settlement agreement with contractors with the aim of delivering the tram route to the city.
8. 5 September
Samsung stopped promoting its new tablet Galaxy Tab 7.7 at the IFA electronics show after a German court ordered a sales injunction.
It was the latest setback for the South Korean company in its global patent battle with Apple, and follows an earlier ban on German sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 by the court.
The Galaxy Tab 7.7 is the latest addition to Samsung’s Galaxy product range.
9. 5 September
Bombardier Transportation received an order for 76 additional Bombardier Movia metro cars from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (DMRC).
The £74m contract follows an order for 114 vehicles announced in mid-2010, and will see the Indian company operating a fleet of 614 Movia metro cars – one of the largest in the world.
10. 6 September
Hackers spied on about 300,000 Internet users in Iran last month after stealing security certificates from a Dutch IT firm.
Stolen certificates were used by hackers to monitor people who visited Google, allowing them to steal their passwords and obtain access to other social media services.
The report confirmed Google’s earlier statement that week when it said that it had received reports of attacks on Google users and that “the people affected were primarily located in Iran”.
Regional Focus: Space
Nasa launched a new solar-powered spacecraft to Jupiter, where a robotic explorer called Juno will spend a year surveying the largest planet in the solar system and its moons.
The solar-powered spacecraft will take five years to travel to the planet, where it will draw a detailed picture of its magnetic field and find out whether there is a solid core beneath its multi-coloured clouds.
E&T visited the site of the world's first private commercial spaceport in New Mexico, built by top British architects Fosters and Partners and due to open next year.
Spaceport America will be home to the operations centre of Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, which hopes to send space tourists into space in 2012.
See feature on page 32
E&T also visited the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, from which the Sputniks, Vostoks and even Yuri Gagarin were launched.
The Cosmodrome has since opened to western commercial enterprises, including International Launch Services (ILS) ' the result of an agreement between Lockheed Martin and Khrunichev to market commercial satellite launches.
See feature on page 36
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