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Sat-ND, 5.4.97




Sat-ND 97-04-05 - Satellite and Media News

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TODAY'S HEADLINES

LAUNCHES
* TITAN II LAUNCHES WEATHER SATELLITE
* THAICOM 3, BSAT 1A DELAYED
* FIVE MORE INSATS UNTIL 2003
BUSINESS
* TELESAT BIRD TO COST C$350 MILLION
* FCC OKAYS HUGHES AND PAS SLOTS
* INFO: HUGHES AND PAS SATELLITES
* GE TAKES OVER AT&T VSAT UNIT
CHANNELS
* WHY I LOVE TO LIVE IN EUROPE (NOT GREECE)
DIGITAL
* DEATH SENTENCE FOR ANALOGUE TV
* ABC NEWS TO HIT THE WEB
FEEDBACK: SAT-ND, 3.4.97
* NO PHOENIX IN GREECE

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LAUNCHES

TITAN II LAUNCHES WEATHER SATELLITE
For the first time, a Titan II rocket launched a military satellite of
the DMSP series. Currently, there are seven DMSP satellites in low Earth
orbits, including the latest one, DMSP F13. Built by Lockheed Martin
Missiles & Space and operated by the U.S. Air Force, they are used for
strategic and tactical weather prediction to aid the U.S. military in
planning operations at sea, on land and in the air. Equipped with a
sophisticated sensor suite that can image cloud cover and general weather
effects in both visible and infrared light, the satellite collects
specialised meteorological, oceanographic and solar-geophysical
information under all weather conditions.
This launch marks the last of the Block 5D-2, the designation of the
current generation of DMSP satellites. The next series, Block 5D-3, is in
production at the Missiles & Space facility in East Windsor. Block 5D-3
satellites can accommodate larger sensor payloads. They also feature a
larger power supply; a more powerful on-board computer with increased
memory, which allows greater spacecraft autonomy; and increased battery
power that will extend the life of the satellites from the current four
years to five years. This DMSP satellite was completed and provided to
the Air Force in 1990, and has been in storage in East Windsor since
then. 
The Titan II SLV (space launch vehicle) has been used six times since its
first launch 1988, the last time in January 1994 - so far without any
launch failures. Fully fuelled, the 45-metres high, two-stage rocket
weighs in at 148,500 kg. Being converted Intercontinental Ballistic
Missiles (ICBMs,) they nonetheless have a long history. Titan IIs served
as "key elements of the nation's strategic deterrent for more than two
decades," as manufacturer Lockheed Martin Astronautics put it. Besides,
they also launched ten manned and two unmanned missions for the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the Gemini program in
the 1960s. The Titan II SLV used for launching DMSP F13 was one of 14
former ICBMs Lockheed Martin Astronautics refurbished for Air Force space
launches. 


THAICOM 3, BSAT 1A DELAYED
The Thai satellite THAICOM 3 and the Japanese BSAT 1A will have to wait
before the can be put in orbit on Ariane flight 95. Originally planned
for April 11, the launch was postponed after "a slight anomaly was
detected while clamping the THAICOM 3 satellite to its adapter on the
Ariane launcher," as Arianespace said in a brief statement. "Additional
technical checks were immediately initiated, and Arianespace will
announce a new tentative launch date early next week."


FIVE MORE INSATS UNTIL 2003
India has announced a few details on the future of their indigenous INSAT
satellite program. The third INSAT series will consist of five
satellites, to be launched over a period of five years from 1999. The
first two launches will be provided by foreign companies, while the
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) hopes to have the remaining
three lifted to orbit by India's self-made Geostationary Launch Vehicle
(GSLV.) By 2005, ISRO expects to have a satellite communication
infrastructure comprising 130 transponders at its disposal. 



BUSINESS

TELESAT BIRD TO COST C$350 MILLION
Telesat Canada plans to spend more than C$350 million for a satellite to
be located at 91W, the prime satellite slot that recently was awarded to
the telecommunications company by the Canadian government. (There were no
other bidders for the slot, by the way.) Telesat Canada is 95 owned by a
consortium of telephone companies led by Bell Canada. 
"It's a major undertaking, that's for sure," admitted Telesat spokesman
Paul Bush. The direct broadcast satellite should be ready by September
1998. It will be built in co-operation with Spar Aerospace which won a
substantial subcontract from the project. Toronto-based Spar, by the way,
holds the remaining five percent in Telesat. COM DEV International Ltd
and U.S.-based Lockheed Martin Corp. are also expected to substantially
contribute to the project.
The future of five more satellite slots held by Canada is still unclear.
According to Canada's Industry Minister Paul Manly, their usage will
"depend on the market and on the future of the relationship bilaterally
with the U.S. on the use of satellites."


FCC OKAYS HUGHES AND PAS SLOTS
The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) formally
approved the transfer of orbital slot licenses from both PanAmSat and
Galaxy to the new, combined PanAmSat Corporation. PanAmSat and Hughes
Communications, Inc. announced the proposed merger in September 1996. At
that time, the parties estimated that it would take six to twelve months
to obtain all necessary government approvals and complete the merger.
Based on the passage of the antitrust review period and FCC approval
today, the companies continue to believe that the approval process is on
schedule. The final federal clearance necessary for the merger to
conclude is expected shortly from the United States Securities and
Exchange Commission. The final step will be approval by PanAmSat
shareholders. 


INFO: HUGHES AND PAS SATELLITES
The combined Hughes/PanAmSat fleet of satellites may look like this, by
the way:
Satellite	Position	Launch
PAS 8	166E	1998
PAS 2	169E	1994
PAS 4	68.5E	1995
PAS 7	68.5E	First quarter 1998
PAS 3R	43W	1996
PAS 6	43W	May 1997
PAS 1	45W	1988
PAS 5	58W	July 1997
GALAXY VI	74W	1990
SBS 6	74W	1990
SBS 4	77W	1984
BRASILSAT A1	79W	1985
GALAXY VII	91W	1992
GALAXY III-R	95W	1995
GALAXY IV	99W	1993
GALAXY IX	123W	1996
SBS 5	123W	1988
GALAXY V	125W	1992
GALAXY I-R	133W	1994


GE TAKES OVER AT&T VSAT UNIT
GE Capital Spacenet Services, Inc. agreed to purchase AT&T Tridom, which
has been providing Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) satellite
communications networks to major companies world-wide for more than a
decade.
Said GE Spacenet President Gino Picasso, "The acquisition demonstrates
General Electric's commitment to make the investments necessary to become
a world-wide premier provider of satellite data and video communications
services."
AT&T Product Management Vice President Bob Aquilina stated that "Selling
Tridom is part of AT&T's effort to prune the company of non-core
businesses."



CHANNELS

WHY I LOVE TO LIVE IN EUROPE (NOT GREECE)
In our effort to provide continuos coverage of Polish TV activities all
over the world (some may call it a running gag, though) we can now
announce the immanent availability of TV Polonia to digital TV
subscribers in the U.S. The channel is broadcast in clear, analogue PAL
in Europe (standard disclaimer: subject to availability, especially in
Greece) on some EUTELSAT satellite and offers a selection of programming
from Poland's public broadcaster Telewizja Polska (TP.) Many programs are
indeed shown with English subtitles.
In North America, TV Polonia will be available exclusively through a
company called Polish Television USA. For digital reception, viewers will
need not only an EchoStar digital receiver but also a TV Polonia smart
card. I have no idea what it will cost, but everybody who is interested
should call 773-252-0444 or move to Europe (except for Greece, I'm
afraid) where the service is free.



DIGITAL

DEATH SENTENCE FOR ANALOGUE TV
As expected, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has not
only ruled that analogue TV will be phased out by 2006. (In that year,
broadcasters will be required to return their existing analogue licenses
to the government. They will be used for other purposes which haven't
been defined so far.) In the ten largest TV markets, the four big
networks ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC (in alphabetical order) will have to
introduce digital terrestrial broadcasting provided by owned or
affiliated stations within 18 months. Rules call for 30 percent of
households to receive broadcasts of at least three digital TV stations by
May 1, 1999.
Consumers will either have to pay at least US$150-300 to acquire set-top
boxes that convert the digital signals to analogue, or shell out up to
US$2,000 for a completely new digital TV set. 
The funny thing, however, is that there still is no digital TV standard
whatsoever. The FCC has in principle left it up to broadcasters what
systems they will use. This becomes a problem as the computer industry is
heavily eyeing the TV market, and the so-called Wintel alliance wants
Computer-compliant standards. (Wintel? Microsoft Windows plus Intel, a
formidable alliance. Microsoft blow up their applications frequently to
use even more space and microprocessor capacity, and Intel provides the
new Chips. Latest example: Microsoft Office 97. It comes with a wonderful
program by the name of Outlook 97, which is almost unusably slow even
with 32MBytes of RAM and an Intel Pentium running at a speed of 150MHz.)
So, it's no surprise at all that Wintel in combination with Compaq
Computer will propose a digital TV strategy on Monday at a broadcasters
conference in Las Vegas. Of course, their strategy will embrace the
convergence of digital television with Internet-based interactivity
although there enough studies that prove that the average viewer has no
need for interactivity at all. 
All this probably means that viewers will not just have to by a new TV
set but also a new computer. By the way, the whole FCC strategy is
explicitly aimed at the Christmas business season 1998, offering an
opportunity to sell set-top boxes, new TV sets and computers. Would you
call that pragmatic, practical or just pathetic? 


ABC NEWS TO HIT THE WEB
And yet another news service will go online on the World Wide Web, as
Grandpa Zheng exclusively reports from the lunatic asylum he's currently
being detained at. In yet another major alliance, Disney/ABC, America
Online (AOL) and Netscape try to compete with sites such as those set up
by CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and others. 
To that purpose, Disney bought a "significant" stake in Starwave Corp., a
Web site operator that happens to be owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul
Allen. He will remain the company's largest shareholder and holds an
option to sell his interests to Disney after five years. The whole thing
will probably be available at http://www.abcnews.com.
ABC News will be AOL's premier television and radio news provider, giving
AOL members and maybe also Netscape users a customised version of the
service. ABC News and AOL will promote it on the air and online. So, you
get the idea. Judging from my own experience, it seems that the World
Wide Web is definitely not he medium to deliver news. On the other hand,
those well-established news services definitely get more hits than I have
Email subscribers.



FEEDBACK: Sat-ND, 3.4.97

NO PHOENIX IN GREECE
In the article on Phoenix I you mentioned that it can be seen all over
Europe via Astra. Wrong! The Astra footprints thoughtfully don't come
anywhere near this part of Europe -- Greece. In fact quite a few of the
Eutelsat footprints don't either. Oh that they did!
We do get some stunning Turkish television however.
(Richard Morrish in Greece)
[Sorry. What I meant was of course that Phoenix, the new German
documentary and events channel, can be seen in many European countries
where there's little or none interest in it whatsoever. It even announced
to launch a Web Site at http://www.msn.de/phoenix/. Obviously, this is in
co-operation with the Microsoft Network. - Ed]



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

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