Solar goes to outer space. Again. Via CNNmoney.com, EMCORE Corporation (NASDAQ:EMKR) was awarded a contract by ATK Space Systems to manufacture, test and deliver solar panels that will be used to power the Orion spacecraft, which is being developed by Lockheed Martin.

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland vowed in his State of the State address to revitalize America’s rust belt. How? By leading the way in solar and wind energy technology, reports Cleveland.com: “There will come a day when Ohio will be the undisputed home of advanced energy. A day when we will have cast off those two tired little words that have been used to put us down: rust belt.” Strickland added, “I believe in Ohio because we will invest in the things we do exceptionally well.” The Governor will have some competition, to say the least. It seems nearly every state has announced some sort of cleantech-focused plan to create jobs and pull their economy out of the doldrums.

Look no further than New York, where Gov. David Paterson today announced a new energy initiative that, by 2014, will increase by a factor of five the amount of solar power generated in state. That is a boatload of solar energy.

What do you do when you have tons of sunshine, but not a drop of water to drink? Use solar power to desalinate ocean water, which is just what Saudi Arabia plans to do. The plan could save the Kingdom up to 40 percent on water and energy costs.

Given the high cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, it may seem oxymoronic to put them up on affordable-housing units. But that’s not stopping Sunwheel Energy Partners, which on Monday announced the successful commissioning of three new affordable-housing solar installations in San Francisco. The systems will reduce electricity costs for the tenants.

You solar-tech wonks out there will be please to hear that Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics will start mass-producing their solar cells this year, as reported by Taiwan News Online.

In other manufacturing news, via Reuters, Chinese solar-cell maker Canadian Solar (NASDAQ:CSIQ) announced it will in 2010 supply 60 megawatts of PV modules to Fire Energy Group, a Spanish company.

In investing news, also via Reuters, BlackRock’s $3.9 billion clean-energy fund is “cautiously” investing in more solar companies — particularly Asian ones. “We’re now cautiously increasing our weightings in solar, it is cautious because we think it’s a u-shaped recovery in demand,” said co-head of the fund Robin Batchelor on Wednesday. He added that the fund managers are focusing on Asian producers because they are believe to have a “structural advantage over some of the European producers.” (I’m no investment guru, but I’m pretty sure that means the Asian firms can do the job cheaper.)

Finally, the Indian climatologist responsible for including in a purportedly authoritative report unsubstantiated claims about glacier melting, explains that his mistake was not politically motivated. In a 2007 report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that the glaciers in the Himalayan mountains could melt completely as soon as 2035.