Sat-ND, 26.11.96

Sat-ND 96-11-26 - Satellite and Quietscheentchenfetischismus News

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*** Indecency warning: This issue once more contains the f... word ***


Hughes books 10+x H-2A launches
The deal had been expected for almost five months (Sat-ND, 4.7.96,) but now
it's perfect. Satellite manufacturer Hughes Electronics Corp. will buy
launch services valued at as much as US$1 billion from Japan's Rocket
Systems Corp. The deal comprises ten firm launches with Japan's
still-to-be-developed indigenous launcher H-2A over a period of five years
plus an unknown number of launch options. The H-2A, expected to operational
by 2000, will be able to lift even large telecommunications satellites such
as Hughes' models HS-601 and HS-702 into a geostationary transfer orbit.
The exact cost of an H-2A launch was not revealed by Hughes. Current prices
suggest that the company would pay some US$50 to 60 million per launch. In
contrast, putting a satellite into orbit using the current Japanese
launcher H-2 still costs US$100 million. 
The Rocket Systems consortium, consisting of more than 70 Japanese firms,
wants to reduce the price by pumping an estimated US$9 billion into the
ambitious launch scheme. As pointed out earlier, it is unknown how much of
this amount is used for technical improvements, and how much is used for
simply subsidising a commercially viable carrier rocket.
Hughes Electronics, however, has admitted its policy of booking satellite
launches with new providers has significantly reduced the cost. In addition
to the H-2A deal, Hughes has similar contracts with SeaLaunch, which wants
to launch Ukrainian-made rockets from a converted oil platform in the South
Pacific, and with McDonnell Douglas for its new Delta-III carrier rocket. 
Hughes managers will probably be aware of the risks that using those new
rockets may bear, and they definitely have made some bad experience with
China's Long March launcher. On the other hand, satellites are insured
anyway, and given the significantly lower prices losing a few of them
doesn't really hurt too much.

Pegasus blackout
Orbital Sciences Corporation today announced the initial results of the
company's investigation into the Pegasus launch vehicle anomaly that
occurred during a space launch mission three weeks ago (Sat-ND,
5./6./8.11.96.) The launch was carried out for NASA from the Wallops Flight
Facility on Virginia's Eastern Shore on November 4, 1996. 
The company's investigation found that one of four electrical power
distribution systems, also known as "power buses," on board the Pegasus
rocket was disabled at approximately 7 minutes and 40 seconds into the 11
minute and 40 second flight. As a result, this power bus did not have
sufficient electrical voltage to activate the rocket-to-satellite
pyrotechnic separation device that was necessary to release the SAC-B and
HETE satellites from the booster rocket once the proper orbit was achieved.
Orbital has identified what it believes to be the source of the failure of
the power bus, which has been used without incident on over 15 previous
Pegasus, Taurus and suborbital rocket launches. 
The company's Pegasus team is now pursuing several simple corrective
measures to address the identified source of the power bus problem to
assure it will not reoccur on future launches. Additional technical work
will continue for several weeks to finalise these findings and oversee
implementation of corrective measures on future Pegasus vehicles now in
final assembly and test. 
Following satisfactory completion and verification of all corrective
measures and final scheduling with its customer for the next Pegasus
mission, the Spanish space agency INTA, Orbital expects to resume launches
in late January or early February.

Echoprimestar? Primeechostar? 
Cable giant TCI's digital satellite service Primestar has always been a bit
different from its U.S. competitors. It actually was America's first
digital direct broadcast satellite (DBS) service when launched back in
1994, although not on a DBS but on a medium-power satellite in the Ku-band.
Plans have so far called for a transition of services to the
soon-to-be-launched GE-2 at 85W. In addition, Primestar said it was
preparing a high-power satellite system at 119W. "Strangely enough, that's
where ECHOSTAR 1 is right now, offering a rivalling service." (Sat-ND,
Now, guess what. According to company executives, Primestar is set to enter
a "facilities-sharing arrangement" with Echostar. This would in principle
mean that both companies would share the satellites at 119E, in other
words: ECHOSTAR 1 and the planned ECHOSTAR 2. A few weeks ago, Primestar
said it was "currently preparing one of our two Loral satellites to launch
from Cape Canaveral in February" but even that doesn't seem fast enough.
Eleven transponders at 119W are licensed to TCI-owned TEMPO, sufficient
capacity for an 80-channel package, while Echostar holds 21 transponders
while, of course, trying to keep any rivalling service away from that
orbital slot. So far, Echostar officials have not commented on Primestar's
Observers pointed out that both companies try to strengthen their position
before Rupert Murdoch's ASkyB enters the market, but the satellite used for
that service (PAS 6) will probably stay grounded until next March. Mr
Murdoch's major rival, Time Warner Inc., also is a leading investor in
Primestar and fully supports its DBS strategy. It may even lead to
Primestar's two DBS satellites, ordered with Loral, being sold to an
international DBS venture.

Who knows Tenzin Gyatso?
There's at least one U.S. media company that does not seem to be too keen
on conquering the Chinese market. A unit of Walt Disney Co. is currently
co-producing a movie on Tenzin Gyatso, better known as the Dalai Lama --
Tibet's spiritual leader and formerly the ruler of the country who has been
living in exile since 1959. China occupied the once independent territory
back in 1950.
Now, the story of the 1989 Nobel peace prize winner takes to Hollywood.
Chinese officials are not amused, claiming Disney was interfering with the
country's internal affairs. Kong Min, speaking for the Chinese ministry of
Radio, Film and Television told the New York Time that China was strictly
opposed to the movie. A spokesperson for China's foreign ministry even
warned Hollywood as a whole of the consequences of an "anti-Chinese" movie.
According to the New Work Times, Disney executives so far have not decided
on whether to carry on with the movie that, by the way, will be directed by
Martin Scorsese. Will it?

Zeroes and Ones
By Grandpa Zheng <http://www.sat-net.com/pck/zheng/>

Fast Internet access again
PAS 2 at 169E will soon provide Internet access services to Japanese
customers. The DirecPC service as known in the USA and Europe will be
offered by a Tokyo based company called Direct Internet. Its major
shareholders include Hitachi Cable Ltd., Japan Telecom Co., Sony Music
Entertainment (Japan) Inc. and Parallel Technology Inc. Their Internet
access service will directly be hooked up to a major U.S. backbone via a
half-transponder on PAS 2's Northeast Asia beam.
As usual, the service promises gigantic transmission rates "more than 20
times faster than conventional telephone lines." While this may hold to
true in theory, here's the Sat-ND standard disclaimer for such miracle
services: The transmission rate while accessing an arbitrary Internet
service does not depend on your connection to any service provider in the
first place. Instead, it is generally determined by the weakest link in a
transmission chain than may span half the globe or even more. Do not expect
to access every service at the same high speed. (To whom it may concern: I
hope this statement will even be acceptable by my strongest critic ;-)

Smash 'em
Did you notice? If it's not sexually explicit, you won't earn anything with
your web site. Viacom Inc. has learned the lesson, too. The company
recently sent letters to major Internet service providers (ISPs) telling
them they had to pay for their customers' visiting WWW sites such as those
of MTV and Nick at Nite. Should the ISPs refuse, their customers will be
blocked from accessing those sites. 
This is more or less like Viacom declaring its online ventures dead broke.
They are at least clever enough to know that nobody will be ready to get
out his or her credit card to view the promotional blurb presented on the
Web sites mentioned. Instead, they want the public to subsidise the whole
thing in effect. Most likely, the majority of the World's netizens couldn't
care less about what Mr or Mrs Viacom present on their shabby Web pages.
They even are so unpopular that reportedly they didn't even attract any
advertising -- just as Viacom's cable networks? Advertising still makes up
just 15 percent of U.S. cable channels' revenues.
Will the Internet work like that? Some greedy analysts subscribe to this
point of view, of course, because it becomes increasingly clear that
companies so far were unable to make any money from their online
activities. Well, to be blunt: it's entirely their fault. They believed in
all those crazy predictions that the Internet will become part of everyday
life in most civilised nations soon, which it will not. They believed that
setting up glitzy sites would not only be "content" enough but also attract
advertising customers. Ha, ha!
Tell you what, guys: Most Internet surfers' favourite pastime is ignoring
your stupid advertising banners. And besides, still 99 percent of real
content on the Internet is provided by amateurs and enthusiasts like you
and me. So please, all you Viacoms and other companies, just do us a favour
and simply fuck off.

Copyright 1996 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.

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