Sat-ND, 23.12.96

Sat-ND 96-12-23 - Satellite and Boeing News

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Double Deal?
Russia and the Ukraine are eagerly marketing their satellite launch services
abroad -- maybe something a bit too eagerly. Some companies from the former
Soviet Union signed a contract with Boeing Co. and other firms to form the
well-known SeaLaunch venture (Sat-ND, 12.12./25.10./15.7.96.) But now, a
company from Colorado has turned up that says it had signed an exclusive
contract with Russian and Ukrainian officials back in 1993 -- two years before
The company, Commercial Space Management Co. of Denver, have filed a lawsuit
last Friday, accusing Boeing and its Eastern partners of fraudulent tactics by
signing a competing launch-services agreement. Commercial Space seeks US$500
million in penalties and damages.

US subsidies for new rockets
Some may call this indirect subsidising even though it's pretty direct,
actually. Nonetheless the US Air Force will award a US$1.6 billion contract to
an American rocket manufacturer in 1998. But to which one? Boeing Co. is
already out of the race but stays a competitor by virtue of its agreement to
buy McDonnell Douglas. The other contestant that passed a recent "downselect"
is Lockheed Martin Corp.
The contract that will finally be awarded calls for the development of a new
generation of highly efficient, expendable rockets -- officially for launching
government satellites, but certainly not just them but commercial ones as well.
Last Friday, McDonnell and Lockheed were contracted to develop "evolved
expendable launch vehicles" (EELVs.) The company that does the job better will
finally get the US$1.6-billion contract: either Lockheed Martin will be paid
for developing its new Atlas IIAR launcher, or McDonnell will get the money for
its new Delta 4 rockets. 
While the Delta 4 line features an all-liquid engine, reportedly the first new
rocket engine developed in the U.S. in decades, Lockheed's approach
incorporates a Russian-designed engine that is to be assembled by Pratt &
Whitney in the U.S.

A different kind of child molesters
It's sad enough that adults waste a significant part of their lifetime watching
TV. It's more sad, however, that they even allow their children to watch
television. Especially those programmes targeted at children are not as
harmless as they may seem. A new study conducted by the Sheffield University
commissioned by British broadcasters shows that more than a third (34 percent)
of violent acts on TV (including cartoon channels) happen in programmes
targeted at children.
This result is no real surprise as broadcasters tend to provide their younger
audience with cartoons, which undoubtedly contain a high amount of fictional
yet gratuitous violence. However, the selection of programming surveyed showed
that British television was violence-free for 98.8 percent of the total time
which, on the other hand, is a pretty irrelevant figure as the survey even
included a sports channel. Maybe one day researchers will come up with an
answer to the question why on earth anybody would want to watch violence on TV
after all. 

License fees I
The new broadcast legislation has finally passed all parliaments of Germany's
federal states, allowing it to come into effect on January 1. The TV and radio
audience will notice the change immediately as license fees will rise by DM4.45
to DM28.25 (US$ 19) per month. The lion's share of this fee is cashed in by the
public broadcasters ARD and ZDF; a small percentage is used for the regulatory
bodies that license commercial stations. Commercials broadcasters rejoice as
they will be freed from strict anti-cartel restrictions. From now on, they can
set up as many TV channels as they lease as long as they don't reach a combined
market share of 30 percent. Even home shopping channels are legalised, although
politicians helped them onto satellite while those channels were still
inadmissible. Public broadcasters, although obliged to provide "basic
services," were given green light for two niche channels: a children's channel
and "Phönix," which is dedicated to current affairs, events and documentaries.

License fees II
German politicians, especially those who want to save public broadcasting, tend
to point out that the BBC television license fee is not determined by
politicians but instead linked to the inflation rate.
Yes... and no. Heritage Secretary Virginia Bottomley has announced that the
license fee will actually rise over the next five years by the equivalent of
inflation, but at different speed. For 1997, the rise is in line with
inflation, resulting in an annual fee of 91.5 (am I right, just US$55?!) for
colour sets. Until 2000, there will be a rise above inflation while for the
following two years it will be below the rate. 
"The non-uniform pattern of annual changes reflects the need for expenditure on
new digital services in the earlier years," Mrs Bottomley explained. In total,
the proposals equated to a change in the level of the fee until 2002 of the
inflation rate minus 0.08 percent.
BBC Director-General John Birt welcomed the rise that would "enable the BBC to
enter the digital age with pioneering new services for all our licence payers.
We start those services next October. But the reductions announced in later
years are a disappointment. They will affect the BBC's ability to sustain those
services as the digital world develops."

Re: Sat-ND, 21.12.96 [KOSMOS]
In your December 12 issue, you wrote "Russian news agency Itar-Tass reported
that the country's Aerospace Forces today launched the 15th and last KOSMOS
satellite in this year's series."  
Then, in your December 21 issue, you wrote "The Kosmos-30M booster rocket blast
off from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in North Russia today at 9.44 Moscow time,
lifting this year's tenth KOSMOS satellite into orbit."
I'm confused as far as the number of KOSMOS satellites launched, can you
enlighten me? 
(S. Stevens)
[KOSMOS 2327 was the first of its kind to be launched this year (January 16.)
The latest one (December 21) reportedly has 2336 written on its number-plate.
So I guess ten is correct and Itar-Tass was wrong. -- Ed.]

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

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