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HUGHES SCP FAILS
It seems everybody is currently talking about them: spacecraft control
processors (SCPs.) There were problems with SCPs aboard two Hughes' HS
601 model satellites--now, a third is affected: DirecTV's DBS-1. Just
Hughes subsidiary DirecTV in a statement confirmed that a spacecraft
control processor (SCP) aboard the DBS-1 satellite failed on July 4,
1998. "As designed, control of the HS 601-model satellite was
automatically switched to the spare SCP and the spacecraft is currently
operating normally. At no time did DirecTV's more than 3.7 million
subscribers experience any loss of service," the company said.
"In the event that the back-up SCP on-board DBS-1 should also fail,
DirecTV would immediately switch most of the affected programming
services to the DBS-2 and DBS-3 satellites, which are collocated with
DBS-1 at 101 degrees West. In addition, DirecTV continues to actively
pursue other satellite back-up and fleet expansion strategies consistent
with its long-term business plans," the statement went on.
DirecTV's problem followed a June 13 incident in which the primary
control processor of Galaxy VII failed, causing service problems for
several cable-television networks over several hours before the the
backup processor was activated. Sat-ND has learnt that there was a power
problem first, causing some C-band transponders to go off-line. When
commanded back on, Hughes engineers reportedly found that the primary
SCP was gone. That sounds just like electrostatic discharge caused by
increased solar activity, which by the way has killed some birds (for
instance Telstar 401) and partly disabled others (Tempo.)
In a conference call, Hughes told analysts that the problem might be
rooted in processor wiring, and that electrostatic discharge from
increased sunspot activity might be a contributing, though probably not
a primary, factor.
On May 19, a similar failure occurred on Galaxy IV which had more severe
consequences. The spacecraft went out of control after the backup SCP
failed, knocking out service for as much as 85 percent of pagers in the
USA. All three satellites are Hughes HS 601 models.
Of course, it's time for the inevitable 'analysts' again. Take for
example a certain Vijay Jayant, analyst at Bear, Stearns & Co who noted
that "PanAmSat has a huge exposure to Hughes-built HS 601s." So have
other satellite operators--the HS 601 is the world's best-selling
"There's a concern that the HS 601s are failing about halfway through
their 12-to-15-year lifespan." The concern seems rather unfounded as so
far just one HS 601 has completely failed before reaching the end of its
operational life, and that's Galaxy IV.
As a matter of fact, there are many satellite operators around the world
who are not obliged to notify the public of important developments such
as equipment anomalies. Personally, I think that many satellites
actually do run on some backup system or another, starting of course
with the travelling wave tube amplifiers. It is absolutely normal for a
satellite to end its life with less operational transponders than there
were when it took up service. It is also normal for the solar arrays and
the on-board battery to get less efficient over the years.
It is, of course, a bit different with SCPs--if they fail, they fail
completely but that's why there is a spare SCP on board. Same applies to
other on-board systems. "We now have 82 active satellites in orbit, of
which 35 are 601s," said Steven Dorfman, vice chairman of Hughes. "So
when you have that many satellites in orbit working 24 hours a day,
seven days a week, you have incidents, and that's why you have
redundancy." It should be added that those spacecraft have to function
in an extremely hostile environment.
Another analyst was quoted as saying that the failure of the same
component on three satellites in three consecutive months "is too much
of a coincidence to write off to a set of bad circumstances." Yes and
no--it's a bit naive to think other satellite operators didn't
experience similar troubles. As I said, don't expect them to tell the
public unless they have to.
However, there actually seems to be a problem with Hughes' HS 601.
According to Dorfman, "It's definitely a hardware problem on the
satellite." The processor failures all "exhibit the characteristics of a
As could be expected, the latest problems with the Hughes 601 SCP were
also the reason for the delay of the Galaxy X launch. Hughes will
replace certain processor components on the satellite due to be launched
August 3. Dorfman said the changes were intended to prevent a recurrence
of the processor failures.
(SME, source: SAT-ND, Peter C. Klanowski)
SME Comment: Hmmm...anybody heard about these famous HS601 models:
Astra 1C ('93), Astra 1D ('94), Astra 1E ('95), Astra 1F ('96), Astra 1G
RUSSIAN ZENIT LAUNCH
A Russian Zenit 2 rocket completed a multi-nation satellite delivery
mission Friday to mark the launch vehicle's return to service following
a 1997 failure.
The booster with six satellites aboard launched from the Baikonur
Cosmodrome in remote Kazakstan at 2:30 a.m. EDT (0630 GMT), the
Itar-Tass news service reported.
The launch was carried out by the Strategic Missile Forces under an
order by the Russian Space Agency.
Considered the primary payload, the Russian Resurs-0 remote sensing
satellite was carried aloft to study the Earth's environment from space.
Smaller satellites made up the rest of the cargo.
They included the IRIS-1, Thailand's TMSAT, the Israeli TechSAT-2,
Chilean FaSAT-Bravo and Germany's SAFIR-2, according to Russian media
reports. Their missions will range from communications to studying the
Earth's ozone layer and probing the fundamentals of space-based motions.
Today's flight was the first since the booster was grounded in the wake
of a mid-air explosion less than a minute after liftoff last May.
The launch was seen as critical with the increasing demand of the Zenit
vehicle in the commercial satellite market, including several major
flights later this year:
Three Zenit 2 rockets are to be launched in the coming months carrying
12 satellites each to deploy the majority of Globalstar's low-Earth
orbiting telecommunications network. The first launch is now expected in
An enhanced three-stage Zenit is the booster to be used in Boeing's Sea
Launch system, which will launch from atop a floating platform in the
Pacific Ocean along the Equator. The inaugural flight is scheduled for
The Russian military also use Zenits to place some of their satellites
Zenits have flown 28 missions since 1985, but have failed seven times.
(SME, source: FT)
LAUNCH INFORMATION, http://www.satcodx.com/launches.shtml
* NPO-PM/Eutelsat have set the Proton launchdate for their joint SESAT
satellite to 36 East for 25 December 1998, Christmas day.
ASIASAT 1, 105.5 East, http://www.satcodx.com/asia1.shtml
* PTV World, Pakistan's first family entertainment satellite channel,
has started on July 9th. PTV confirms the channel aims to attract
domestic and international audience and seek to compete with other TV
channels targeting viewers in the region and those of subcontinent
origin. Available on Asiasat-1, the channel will be seen in 38 countries
and over 78% of Pakistan. In the beginning PTV World programmes will be
aired during prime time, between 7 pm to midnight.
* The PTV management is projecting the channel as a major achievement in
the 34-year history of Pakistan Television, and it was realized that its
PTV-2 channel, which mainly aired educational programmes abroad, was not
able to to attract any siezable audience because of its limitations.
Drama serials telecast on PTV-2 were mainly repeats which failed to
attract new viewers.
Therefore PTV'S efforts to appeal to international advertisers did not
achieve any success. It was some time ago that PTV management decide to
revitilize the channel making use of the the existing infrastructure
including the satellite uplink, and PTV World is being projected as an
effort in that direction.
(SME, source: SAT-Pakistan)
APSTAR 2R, 76.5 East, http://www.satcodx.com/apstar2r.shtml
* A new Chinese Music Channel "New Wave" has started on 4,010 H,
MPEG-2/clear, SR 6111, FEC 3/4, PIDs 33/34.
* Occsional feeds could be observed on 3,814 H, MPEG-2/clear, SR 6111,
FEC 3/4, PIDs 2160/2120.
PANAMSAT 4, 68.5 East, http://www.satcodx.com/pas4.shtml
* National Geographic Channel has left 3,743 H, and was replaced by
colour bars and occasional feeds.
* I could receive on transponder 2, 3,743 H, MPEG-2/PowerVu/clear, SR
21800, FEC 3/4, South East Asian/Middle East Beam, and line-up:
1160/1120/1 channel One TVSN (PAL)
1260/1220/2 channel two TFC (525 lines)
1360/1320/3 channel three ? (encrypted)
1560/1520/5 channel five Colorbars (525 lines) & Test Audio
1660/1620/6 channel six Colorbars (PAL) & Test Audio
ARABSAT 2A, 26 East, http://www.satcodx.com/arab2a.shtml
* LBC Sat appeared on 12,536 V, PAL/clear, with audio on 6.60 MHz. It is
a re-transmission of the C-Band signal, whereby the quality is clearly
worse than other Ku-Band channels.
(SME, Mohamed El Nadi)
ASTRA 1F, 19.2 East, http://www.satcodx.com/astra1f.shtml
* CNBC-NBC on 12,285 V (CSD) is in clear since three days.
ASTRA 1G, 19.2 East, http://www.satcodx.com/astra1g.shtml
* TV Vandaag, on transponder 109, 12, 574 H, PIDs 517/700, has ceased
on Wednesday, July 8th, due to insufficient financing.
EUTELSAT II-f3, 16 East, http://www.satcodx.com/e2f3.shtml
* Italian TMC is back on 11,024 H, MPEG-2/clear.
* Transponder 33, 11,596 H, colourbars, with in the right upper corner
the uni-coloured green Lybian flag, and in arabic text in the middle of
the screen: "Kanal Fatah Fadd'eyah" which translates in: "Fatah
SME Comment: The channel was used for occasional feeds, until Colonel
Muammar Ghaddafi, fell on Monday morning, fractured some hip-bones and
had live on-screen an operation without anaesthesia, just his "Green
Book" and the nescessary prayers.
Hmmm, I must say a tough guy...but it's for the best of the country.
* The PAL transmissions of Sima-yeh Moghavemat have left 11,680 H.
* Hakk TV seems to be regular on 11,680 H, PAL/clear, after having being
there 20:00-22:00 CET the last two Sundays in a row.
HOT BIRD 1, 13 East, http://www.satcodx.com/hb1.shtml
* TV Polonia was for maintenance off air at transponder 13, 11,475 H,
which resulted in the absence of the same channel at Hot Bird 3,
transponder 70, 12,111 V, in the Telespazio 1 package, VAPS
(VAPS = VPID / APID / PCR PID / SID)
This proves that the digital channel is retrieved from the analogue
signal, while on transponder 70, by absence of this signal automatically
a test card appears.
HOT BIRD 3, 13 East, http://www.satcodx.com/hb3.shtml
* Polonia 1 has left the Slavic package at 12,303 V, now only on in the
Antenna Hungaria EDP on 12,149 V.
HOT BIRD 4, 13 East, http://www.satcodx.com/hb4.shtml
* On transponder 110, 10,719 V, widebeam, SR 27500, FEC 3/4, Skyplex
4353/4354 Balard 5 Mysik Karayb
8191/8191 Aston Swd Empty
5715/5714 Balard Worldnet Worldnet with VOA audio
* Kurdish Med TV started on 10,853 H, PAL/clear, 6,60 MHz, wide beam.
Identical transmissions on Eutelsat II-f2 transponder 25L, 10,972 V,
will cease during the next few weeks.
* Quantum 24 on 10,930 H, superbeam has changed sound carriers, 6,50 MHz
Dutch, 7,20 Mhz German.
EUTELSAT II-f2, 10 East, http://www.satcodx.com/e2f2.shtml
* Bloomberg TV Germany (test) has started on transponder 37, 11,575 V,
MPEG-2/clear, SID 5, PIDs 1560/1520, in addition to PIDs 1460/1420.
THOR 3, 0.8 West, http://www.satcodx.com/thor3.shtml
* Tests on various transponder since the early morning hours all through
the day. Test carrier seen on 12,456 V in Greece.
SME Comment: Reports on any sightings in our region are very welcome at
mine or the SATCO DX mailbox. Check Ku-Band from 11.700 and 12.500 GHz.
I myself could observe an empty carrier on today 12.475 H around 17:00
CET, with a 240 cm solid dish in Cairo.
SIRIUS 2, 5 East, http://www.satcodx.com/sirius.shtml
* A Teracom colourbar test card has started on 12,380 H, MPEG-2/clear,
* Merlin Communication tests on 12,111 H, MPEG-2/enc./clear, Euro Beam,
SR 16000, FEC 3/4, Line-Up:
32/ 33/8191/1 TV Test 1 Merlin Communications test card
34/ 35/8191/2 TV Test 2 Snell & Wilcox test card (enc.)
8191/8191/ 132/3 IntraNet Test Data Transmission
NILESAT 101, 7 West, http://www.satcodx.com/nile101.shtml
* Showtime Preview Channel on 12,034 H has received new PIDs: 3042/3043.
All PCR PIDs have also changed.
* ART Open Channel on 12,073 H has also received new PIDs: 3072/3073.
(SME, SATCO DX)
Here for the interested, the full data:
tp 17, 12.034 H, MPEG-2, NID 2048, TID 4, SR 27500, FEC 3/4, SHOWTIME
3004/3005/3041/421 STY Style Channel (encr)
3016/3017/3041/422 DISC Discovery (encr)
3025/3026/3041/423 SET Sony Entertainment TV (encr)
3034/3035/3041/424 HALL Hallmark Network Promo (enc)
3042/3043/3041/425 ONTV Showtime Preview Channel (clear)
tp 19, 12,072 H, MPEG-2, NID 2048, TID 8, SR 27500, FEC 3/4, 1stNET/ART
3072/3073/3091/808 OPEN ART Open Channel (clear)
GORIZONT 26, 11 West, http://www.satcodx.com/g26.shtml
* ORT has replaced NTV on 3,815 R, SECAM/clear.
HISPASAT 1A/1B, 30 West, http://www.satcodx.com/hispa.shtml
* Abu Dhabi TV is back on 11,509 V, MPEG-2/clear, SR 12519, FEC 3/4,
PIDs 2260/2220. Radio Abu Dhabi is on APID 2222.
PANAMSAT 3R, 43 West, http://www.satcodx.com/pas3r.shtml
* Nigerian MBI (Minaj Broadcasting International) on 4, 018 R, SR 6111,
FEC 3/4, PIDs 33/34/1, has extended their broadcasting hours. I could
observe them already from 08:00 CET. Programming is mainly in English
and quality is excellent.
* Various channels are testing in an MCPC package on 12,740 H,
MPEG-2/clear, SR 6620, FEC 2/3, PIDs 3160/3120.
* Various channels are testing in an MCPC package on 12,740 V,
MPEG-2/clear, SR 6620, FEC 2/3, PIDs 2160/2120.
Transmissions on both polarizations are frequently identical, but the
the transport stream and SID data are different.
TELSTAR 5, 97 West, http://www.satcodx.com/t5.shtml
* The Kelly broadcasting company are testing with a full Arabic line-up,
a frequency is unfortunately not yet known by me.
They will start regular transmission on Friday, 10 July 1998 in
MPEG-2/clear for the next two months, then it will become encrypted. The
LBC America, Future TV, JSC - Al-Jazeera (Qatar), EDTV (Dubai), ART
America and ART America Movies.
In September, a second package will start with Abu Dhabi TV, Kuwait
Space Channel and the four Egyptian channels, presently in the EABC
(SATCO DX, source: M Al-Khairulla)
SAT-MIDEAST INTERN, http://www.sat-net.com/sat-mideast/
* During the next few months it could become nescessary to adept a few
minor changes in the delivery of the SAT-MidEast reports. In case you
feel that you lost subscription to the mailings, please feel free to
write me. As long as I get informed, I'm able to take corrective
Henk C. Room / Cairo - Egypt
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