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PCBD-Jan2015

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28 The PCB Design Magazine • January 2015 some of the 2014 trends that are promising to make even more headway into 2015. Aerospace Exploration One of the main trends that I found most interesting in 2014 was the increase in the amount of aerospace projects making head- lines. The rise of Virgin Galactic and Space X in past years signaled a turning point for the gen- eral public's waning enthusiasm for space ex- ploration. The notion of privatized space tour- ism stirred the entrepreneurial and exploratory spirit of the nation, and has given private space exploration companies momentum to become real contributors. NASA recently awarded Space X and Boeing contracts to develop, test, and fly space taxis to carry U.S. astronauts into orbit, signaling a growing confidence in newer, smaller vendors to provide leadership. The space exploration arena has always been a tough area for private investors, mostly because of the massive amount of money required to do research and develop- ment. I am personally excited and grateful to Elon Musk, founder of Space X, and Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, for their aggressive moves into the space arena. While 2015 is not likely to see private space tourism take flight, I know we will see great moves to- ward making it happen. But the excitement of space exploration goes far beyond just the new private companies entering the arena. Don't forget NASA's explo- ration of Mars with its Curiosity Rover, and the exciting discovery of methane, a possible sign of organic life on Mars. The Rosetta Mission fi- nally saw its day, with the Philae probe mak- ing its risky landing on comet 67P. In December was the most exciting news: the first launch of the new Orion space shuttle. I was personally very proud of that, knowing that some of our customers used our software to complete some of the pieces installed on the Orion. There were also setbacks, such as the Virgin Galactic rocket crash in October of this year, but space exploration is a pioneer effort. Dan- ger lurks everywhere, partly because all of this technology is new, or just barely proven. But with government-funded and private compa- nies now working together to propel us deeper into space, we can be sure that electronics com- panies associated with space exploration will continue to be major innovators. 3D Printing Almost every time I picked up a newspa- per or trade publication last year, I read about another feat in 3D printing. 3D printing has a huge following because of the possibilities it offers to the individual consumer. It looks as though companies are capitalizing on the slowly recovering retail markets by appealing to the consumer end of the market, but the technology has also become widely explored in the medical fields. 3D printers are already creating successful prosthetics for humans and animals alike, and the R&D into printing or - 2015: A LOOK AT MOvINg TRENDS continues software bytes Figure 2: unmanned test launch of nASA's orion spacecraft, Dec. 5, 2014 (courtesy of nASA).

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