Sat-ND, 17.1.97

Sat-ND 97-01-17 - Satellite and Media News

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Reportedly, it was eleven years ago when a Delta II last rocket exploded
shortly after lift-off. Today, it happened again when the McDonnell Douglas
Corp. manufactured launcher was supposed to put a navigation satellite into
orbit from Cape Canaveral.
The detection of a yet unexplained "anomaly" just ten seconds into flight
presumably triggered the rocket's on-board self-destruction mechanism. In
addition, self-destruction commands were sent up from ground control even after
the explosion. (The same happened during the ill-fated maiden launch of the new
Ariane 5 launcher, leading to quite some confusion afterwards.) 
Nobody was hurt when the debris plummeted back to Earth from an altitude of
almost 1,600 feet (1.4 kilometres.) Air Force officials could not provide an
instant explanation for the disaster. A spokesman for Boeing Co. said a
division of his company built the engine of the Delta II rocket. Boeing is, as
you may know, planning to take over McDonnell Douglas (Sat-ND, 16.12.96.)
News agencies quoted witnesses as saying the explosion was spectacular. "I
heard the main explosion and after that I heard three, four, more minor
explosions and more smoke and more fireballs," said a photographer who was
watching the scene. 
The rocket was carrying the first in a new generation of Global Positioning
System GPS satellites. The US$40 million spacecraft was built by Lockheed
Martin Corp.
Air Force officials said the loss would not affect the GPS network as the lost
satellite was intended as a replacement for an older one.

AT&T today said it has given up efforts to restore communications with TELSTAR
401, one of its Skynet unit's two fully functional satellites that went silent
last Saturday. The satellite operator has established a joint technical review
board with Lockheed Martin to determine the root cause of the problem. 
AT&T will petition the FCC to move TELSTAR 302 to TELSTAR 401's orbital slot at
97 W to provide temporary transponder capacity for customers. The first of the
TELSTAR 5 class, currently under construction by Space Systems/Loral, is
scheduled to be launched in May. It is planned to be positioned at 97W.
Its C-band transponders will be used by commercial broadcasters and syndicators
while Ku-band transponders will be used for direct-to-home broadcasting. AT&T
plans to re-establish public broadcasting, distance learning, and satellite
news gathering services on TELSTAR 402R Ku-band as soon as possible once the
first TELSTAR 5 has been launched. 
Last September, AT&T agreed to sell its Skynet Satellite Services to Loral
Space & Communications. Both companies announced they would remain committed to
the transaction but were holding discussions on the terms of the sale. In other
words: although TELSTAR 401 was insured, Loral will probably pay less for
Skynet than previously expected.

U.S. defence officials today tried to disperse rumours of a possible
co-operation with the Thai military in the field of spy satellites (Sat-ND,
9.1.97.) "Recent stories in the press of proposed U.S.-Thai co-operation on
satellite use are somewhat inaccurate," said Pentagon spokeswoman Queenie
Byars. She acknowledged that "the Department of Defence has held preliminary
discussions with the royal Thai military regarding Cupertino in military
satellite communications" but refused to comment Thai press reports which
indicated that sensitive intelligence satellites were involved.
"A Defence Department team visited Thailand in early January to discuss this
issue further. As discussions on possible co-operation are ongoing, it would be
inappropriate to speculate on their outcome," she added.

Hughes Space and Communications International will supply Orion Asia Pacific
Corp. with an HS 601 HP satellite (serving as ORION 3,) including ground
station support and launch services.
The new satellite will serve the Asia Pacific region, providing business
communications services to users in all major markets including Korea, China,
India, Japan, Australia, Southeast Asia, Oceana, and Hawaii. 
The satellite is based upon the HS 601 HP (high-power) platform which can carry
payloads twice as powerful as those on a standard HS 601 satellite through such
innovations as gallium arsenide solar cells, advanced battery technology, and a
xenon ion propulsion system, Hughes said in a press release. 
Some of SES' latest ASTRA satellites use the same features. But unlike them,
ORION 3 will have ten C-band transponders delivering a minimum 33 - 37 dBW, and
33 Ku-band transponders delivering 44 - 53 dBW. The C-band transponders will
provide broad distribution services, particularly to television and other
program distributors. The Ku-band transponders will be used primarily for
private business network applications and direct-to-home video services. The
satellite has a life expectancy of at least 15 years. 
ORION 3 will be a delivery-on-orbit contract with launch on-board a Delta III
rocket [well, well! -- Ed.] and will be positioned at 139E. Hughes will
provide hardware and software to the Orion satellite control centre in
Rockville, to the primary telemetry tracking and control station, and to the
backup control station, located near Seoul, South Korea. 

Among the trendy phone satellite systems, Odyssey is definitely one of the less
sexier ones. "The patented [US]$3.2 billion Odyssey satellite system, to begin
service in 2001, will allow subscribers to use a pocket-sized mobile phone or a
fixed wireless phone to call any phone from anywhere on earth," the company
said in a press release. But so far, there's just one service provider who
signed up with them -- China Telecommunications Broadcast Satellite
Corporation, or ChinaSat.
The agreement that was signed today gives ChinaSat exclusive rights to
distribute Odyssey satellite-based cellular phone, fax, and data services in
the People's Republic of China. ChinaSat is a wholly-owned subsidiary of
China's Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, the country's major telecom
Too strange. 
Last November, news agency Xinhua rejoiced at "US-based multi-national company
Globalstar L.P." presenting China "with a mobile global satellite
telecommunications system" worth US$3.5 million that "will help inaccessible
areas of China with a new way of communications." Back then, Globalstar
Telecommunications Ltd. had reached an agreement with China's Ministry of Posts
and Telecommunications' ChinaSat to provide basic telephony service beginning
in 1998 (Sat-ND, 11.11.96.)

Telesat Canada may not have been too successful in implementing digital DBS
services in Canada. But for a qualified satellite operator, there's a lot of
work to do all around the world. 
Telesat has signed a contract with Asia Broadcasting and Communications Network
Ltd. (ABCN,) a subsidiary of M. Group Public Co. of Thailand. Under the
contract, Telesat will operate the L-STAR broadcasting and communications
satellites for up to 24 months after launch which is expected in 1998.
It won't be easy, though, to control a satellite broadcasting to Asia from
Gloucester, Ontario. However, Telesat is currently building tracking and
control facilities in Perth, Australia. They will initially be
remote-controlled from Telesat's Satellite control centre in Canada. 
Telesat also was previously named engineering program manager to oversee the
design, construction and testing of the two L-STAR satellites. Both will be
built by Loral Space Systems. Each will have 16 Ku-band transponders with a
power of 225W each. They will be located at 116E, covering almost all of Asia
(Sat-ND, 30.8./26.3.96.)

DirecTV became the first direct-to-home digital satellite entertainment
television service to reach the Caribbean when launched today in Port of Spain,
Outside the USA, DirecTV is currently available in Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela,
Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica. Starting today, television viewers in Trinidad
& Tobago and Barbados will have the opportunity to subscribe to the service. 
In the English-speaking Caribbean, the service will be provided by CCN Galaxy
Caribbean, a subsidiary of Caribbean Communications Network, Ltd. It is
expected that DirecTV will be available in Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Kitts, St.
Lucia, Antigua and Dominica, as well as in Guyana and Belize later this year.

A few days ago, Franco-German cultural channel ARTE started what may
revolutionise teletext in the same way commercial radios changed RDS (radio
data system) to fit their purposes. 
Usually, the right hand corner of the teletext header line is used to display
just the current time. ARTE now regularly interrupts the time display, showing
an animated word sequence instead that promotes ARTE as such. This special
effect will probably not go unnoticed by the commercial TV stations. Let's wait
for the first copy-cats to show up.
RDS, offering a supposedly static display on radio sets, is nowadays used by
many broadcasters for displaying scrolling text and other special effects. What
was started by a few, soon gained wide-spread use among radio stations, so that
even the standards organisations are now working on changing the RDS
To see the 'ARTE feature,' set your TV set to teletext and watch the clock
display for a couple of seconds.
(Jürgen Bartels)

Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.

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