Sat-ND, 5.3.97

Sat-ND 97-03-05 - Satellite and Media News

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It's the best, the biggest and the most sophisticated of its kind --
that's how DirecTV Japan (DTVJ) describes its digital satellite
broadcast centre. It doesn't exist yet; however, DTVJ is moving
forward with its construction. Located in Ibaraki Prefecture, it's
construction is well under way and expected to be completed in late
May. Successively, equipment is scheduled to be delivered and
installed in September, allowing a DTVJ start next autumn.
DTVJ recently secured contracts with Magnitude Compression Systems
Inc., a subsidiary of General Instrument Corp.; Matsushita Electric
Industrial Co. Ltd. (MEI), a DTVJ partner; Sony; and NEC Corp.
The first in the processing chain will be Sony, providing digital
video and audio distribution within DTVJ's ground network prior to
distribution via satellite. Sony's Baseband Processing Subsystem
supports DTVJ's initial requirements for delivery of approximately
100 video channels via 16 transponders on the yet-to-be-launched
SUPERBIRD C. But before that,  Matsushita will take over and finally
compress the signals before the reach the uplink which will in turn
be supplied by NEC, including two antennas.
Well, a question may arise from this although I don't expect anybody
to ask it. Anyway, here it comes: "Signals will circulate in digital
form within the broadcast centre and then finally be uplinked.
Doesn't that involve many compressions and decompressions, and how
does this affect the picture quality?"
A pretty good question, because that's actually what I ask myself ;-)
And here's the answer from Sony: "By using a consistent 4:2:2 Profile
@ Main Level compression scheme, DTVJ can avoid the significant loss
of quality that can come from repeated compression/decompression or
shifting between compression schemes as signals move through the
plant. Moreover, as a true digital component signal, it holds up
extremely well in multi-generational processing." Said Larry Kaplan,
senior vice president of Broadcast and Production Systems for Sony
Electronics, "By using the robust Betacam SX 4:2:2 compression scheme
throughout the facility, video and audio quality will be consistent
as programs are edited, networked around the facility, stored on both
disk and tape and archived."

Military officials soon will be able to surf the Internet for
thousands of global maps and satellite images, thanks to a new
US$22-million system being developed by Harris Corp. 
No, turn that modem off again and read on. The press release said
that military officials will be able to do that, not you. This is not
an Intranet venture however, as the pictures will be available to
"U.S. military users around the world." (Hey, strange! What are they
doing all over the world?) 
Oh yes, you have a chance to access all those fine pictures in case
you're a U.S. policy maker. All those imagery is collected and
maintained by an agency set up last year by the National Imagery and
Mapping Agency Act. NIMA, as the agency is known for short, is based
in Fairfax, Virginia, is a part of the U.S. Intelligence Community
and provides imagery and mapping information to national policy
makers and military forces.
Under the contract, Harris will develop software that takes thousands
of satellite maps and images from numerous sources and catalogues
them into one accessible information base. It will enable users to
browse, query and order electronic or hard copies of any maps or
images within the information base. 
Users like you and me will have to be content with blurry pictures
taken some centuries ago by the first U.S. spy satellites or with not
quite as ancient pictures from Russian satellites that are sold on
CD-ROM nowadays. At least, in Europe.

Is there a new trend that satellites will increasingly comprise parts
and even subsystems that weren't produced in-house by the prime
contractor? Just go and ask somebody else because I don't know. 
However, the Canadian COM DEV International Ltd. is expecting a Can$3
million subcontract from Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) for the supply
of microwave switches and multiplexers for the construction of
Telesat Canada's direct-to-home broadcast satellite, if Industry
Canada approves the project.
Telesat Canada said Canadian Spar Aerospace Ltd. will also supply
components for the satellite, while Lockheed Martin's Lockheed
Overseas Corp. unit will provide the satellite.
COM DEV recently announced it would also supply Hughes Space
Communications International Inc. with microswitches worth some Can$3
William Fitzgerald, president of Cambridge, Ontario-based COM DEV's
Space Group said his company wasn't acting as a mere subcontractor
but as an extension of the major players' in-house capabilities.
"That will really be a breakthrough in the whole philosophy of our
industry, where they will use an external product supplier like COM
DEV to take on a major part of a product design." he said.
Frankly, Can$3-million contracts do not exactly indicate that major
parts of the satellite design are involved although they may of
course be important. But when it comes to U.S. built satellites that
serve the Canadian market, there may be some observers who have their
own thoughts about the involvement of Canadian companies. Honni

It was announced as a project that would provide underdeveloped
regions of the world with communications services. It has recently
shifted its focus towards offering operator services in
industrialised regions. And now, Iridium has even filed an
application with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to
modify its licence. 
The consortium, led by Motorola, also wants to supply Aeronautical
Mobile Satellite (Route) Services over its system, such as flight
safety communications between an aircraft's cockpit and air traffic

Within the next ten years, more than 270 geostationary commercial
communications satellites will be launched for 92 satellite projects,
predict Teal Group analysts in their latest forecast. It doesn't even
take a calculator to find out that according to their predictions,
one satellite will be launched every fortnight. The total worth of
the launches is estimated at around US$38 billion.
It is interesting to note that the figures are remarkably different
from those of Teal's last forecast which predicted just 201
satellites for the period 1995-2004, worth a total of US$28 billion.
The 27 percent growth is partly caused by the expectation that the
business will begin be going stronger again between 2004 and 2006,
but there are still major drops expected in 2000 and then again in
2004. It will take some more time before the satellite business will
be really humming again, say the Teal experts. They expect a major
peak around 2009-2012.
"For the foreseeable future, we believe the top five competitors in
the market to develop and manufacture GEO commercial communications
satellites will continue to be Hughes Space and Communications,
Lockheed Martin Telecommunications, and Space Systems/Loral of the
United States, and Matra Marconi Space and Aerospatiale of France, at
least in terms of the dollar value of the satellites they produce,"
said Marco Caceres, lead analyst for Teal Group. "In terms of number
of satellites produced, Russia's Prikladnoi Mekhaniki should also be
considered among the top primes."
The study sees especially France's Alcatel Espace breaking into
foreign markets, citing the three satellites commissioned by
WorldSpace and even the dubious Iranian satellite (system?) ZOHREH.
So far, Iran has claimed it would produce the satellite(s) on
themselves, using technology transferred from Russia.
A new competitor is expected to emerge in the U.S.: a company by the
name of CTA will debut on the GEO satellite market with INDOSTAR 1,
to be built for Indonesia upon CTA's Star-class bus. CTA also has a
contract to build BOREALIS, a satellite for Borealis Space of Canada.
The Indian Space Research Organization and the Chinese Academy of
Space Technology build satellites almost exclusively for national
customers. That also generally applies to the remaining companies.
"Alenia Spazio of Italy, Daimler-Benz Aerospace of Germany, Energija
of Russia, Israel Aircraft Industries, and Spar Aerospace of Canada
have yet to show they can be commercially competitive as GEO comsat
primes," said Caceres.

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

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