If you use off-the-shelf electronics parts instead of expensive, hard-to-find space-rated gear, will your satellite work?  The process of 'derating' will let you do this.  Engineer Amanda Shields contributes today's guest column.

I'm becoming very familiar with derating and the joys of it.   Electrical components for spacecraft have to be derated. Basically, that means that you take the electrical component and you look at the data sheet for that piece and you have to say "Well, according to the datasheet it can have a maximum input power of XX, but NASA says that it has to be derated to 80% of that, so we can actually only have an input power of YY".
NASA's Voyager 1, launched in 1977, was propelled into deep space with the help of Jupiter's and Saturn's gravity. Now it is about to leave the solar system. But exactly when is unclear.

Voyager 1 is traveling at a speed of about 3.6 Astronomical Units (AU) per year - one 'AU' equals the distance between the Sun and the Earth, or 93 million miles.
A Mojave rocket company, an asteroid hunter, and a web pundit walk into a conference.  The badge person says, "what is this some kind of joke?"

Okay, we gotta get to space somehow.  Here's what's new in the private space race industry.  What ties these 4 newsbits together is it's all about having fun.

SatMagazine (March 2012) reports
Think it takes James Webb Space Telescope money-pit type funding to do (or someday do) astronomy these days?

Not so, some astronomers get it done with a lens equivalent to a digital camera. As the saying goes, it's not the size of your aperture, it's the vigor of your numerical analysis that counts.

The KELT North telescope in southern Arizona has a tiny lens - really tiny.  But it has revealed the existence of two very unusual faraway planets in a big way, according to Ohio State University doctoral student Thomas Beatty and Vanderbilt University research scientist Robert Siverd, who detailed their discoveries for the KELT-North team at the American Astronomical Society national meeting in Anchorage.
The winner picture of the Venus transit must be the one below, whose original version can be found here. Thanks Bente Lilya Bye for posting the link on her Facebook page!

The picture was taken by Hinode, a joint JAXA-NASA mission to study the Sun's magnetism in and around sunspots.
Tuesday, June 5th, 2012 at 3:03 PM PDT (California), Venus will do something we on Earth will have witnessed for only the eighth since the invention of the telescope - it will cross in front of the sun. This transit is among the rarest of planetary alignments and it has an interesting cycle. Two Venus transits always occur within eight years of each other and then there is a break of either 105 or 121 years before it happens again.
Today's primer: orbital mechanics, or how we have to manuever to catch debris.  There's a lot of debris in low earth orbit, ranging from paint chips and spare bolts to a heavy toolbox up through entirely dead satellites.  It's tracked, it's plentiful, it was even featured in Wall-E.  How is it a satellite in orbit runs into debris?
NASA visualization of orbital debris
The Square Kilometre Array telescope will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope, but it had a bit of a problem most big science projects do not have; multiple countries wanted to host it.
Is it cheaper to privatize deliveries?  Sure is, that is why UPS and FedEx are doing well and the US Post Office is now advertising that companies should send more junk mail and waste natural resources.(1)
Shortly after celebrating the tenth anniversary of its time in service, engineers have declared the Envisat satellite lost, following numerous attempts to re-establish contact since April 8th.