Sat-ND, 29.07.97

Sat-ND, 29.07.97 -- delta radio edition
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Today's Headlines

Superbird C: the satellite
Superbird C: the launcher
Superbird C: the user
PAS-5 and 6 get ready
Sea Launch delays inaugural launch
China: launch confusion
Commercial eye in the sky
Hughes goes V-band
New generation GPS
Fengyun 2 again

Editorial note

Shame on me! This is not part 2 of last week's update as I'd promised. Instead, this is what happened since last Sunday. Or rather, a small part of it -- not necessarily the most important one. I guess I will put all the remaining stuff on some Web pages as soon as I have the time. Unfortunately, it looks as though I'll be busy for at least another week. Maybe this is a good opportunity for you to check out all the other fabulous mailing lists sponsored by TELE-satellite International!
By the way: please accept my sincere apologies for any American English that may be contained in this udderly useless publication, such as "stabilized" etc. Unfortunately, the spell checker of StarOffice 4.0 is very lax in this respect even though I chose British English as standard language. It's easily explained, though -- even though StarOffice is a German product, the spell checker was supplied by a U.S. company. Mooo!


Superbird C: the satellite

Superbird-C, a communications satellite for Space Communications Corp., was successfully launched last Sunday.
Superbird-C, built by Hughes Spaces and Communcations, is an HS 601 body-stabilised satellite and joins SCC's existing fleet of Superbird-A and Superbird-B to provide digital multichannel broadcasting services and business communications services throughout Japan and the Asia-Pacific region, including Hawaii.
The spacecraft has 24 active transponders powered by 90-watt, linearised travelling wave tube amplifiers. Superbird-C also has a pair of four-panel solar arrays that will generate a total of 4,500 watts of electrical power.
The three-axis body-stabilised satellite will have both fixed and movable antennas. Superbird-C will be stationed at 144 degrees East and is designed to operate for more than ten years.

Superbird C: the launcher

The satellite was put into orbit by a Lockheed Martin Atlas IIAS rocket. It was the thirty-first consecutive successful Atlas flight from Cape Canaveral Air Station.
The Atlas IIAS used for the Superbird-C mission is the most powerful of the Atlas configurations presently launching payloads for commercial, military and government customers. Its liftoff performance is increased through the use of four strap-on solid rocket boosters. It launched the 3,130-kg (6,902-1b) Superbird-C into a supersynchronous transfer orbit. Over the next several days, the spacecraft's on-board propulsion system will perform manoeuvres designed to inject it into its final geostationary position.

Superbird C: the user

DirecTV Japan (DTVJ) was present at Cape Canaveral's U.S. Air Force Base in Florida Sunday to witness the successful launch of Space Communication Corp.'s (SCC) Superbird C satellite, the company said in a press release.
Upon completion of an orbital confirmation test, approximately 40 days after launch, Superbird C will be operational. DTVJ is planning its test operation in September, followed by a consumer rollout in November.
Along with this successful communication satellite (CS) launch, DTVJ is near completion of its broadcast centre and customer centre.
DTVJ is a partnership between DIRECTV International Inc., a unit of Hughes Electronics Corp.; Culture Convenience Club Co. Ltd., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd.; Space Communications Corp.; Mitsubishi Electric Co. Ltd. Mitsubishi Corp. and Dai Nippon Printing Co. Ltd.

PAS-5 and 6 get ready

According to PanAmSat, their PAS-5 satellite has arrived at its launch site in Kazakhstan, while final preparations are underway for PAS-6 to be launched from Kourou, French Guiana.
PAS-6 is scheduled for an August 8 launch by Arianespace from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. PAS-5 arrived last week at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where it is scheduled for an August 22 launch by International Launch Services on a Proton rocket.
Combined, PAS-5 and PAS-6 will increase PanAmSat's satellite capacity serving Latin America by approximately 130 percent.
"Both PAS-5 and PAS-6 are moving successfully through standard pre-launch testing at their launch sites," said Frederick A. Landman, PanAmSat's president and chief executive officer. "Everything is on track for a busy and fruitful August, when we will place into orbit two of the world's most technologically sophisticated satellites for broadcast and telecommunications services."
Originally scheduled for May 13, the launch of PAS-6 had been postponed in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendation. Space Systems/Loral was investigating the cause of a power decrease on another Space spacecraft with a similar power system.

Sea Launch delays inaugural launch

A spokesman for Sea Lunch Co. has confirmed that the first launch of a rocket from their sea platform will be delayed by four months.
"It is correct that the schedule for the first launch is now in October 1998. It was meant to be in the summer," said Hans Petter Hoegh, CFO at Sea Launch in Oslo. "It is a complex project, the first of its kind, and we want to get it right. There are several different elements to our decision," Hoegh added without further explanation.
Sea Launch Co. is an international commercial space venture led by Boeing Commercial Space Co., Seattle (40 percent) and its partners RSC-Energija (Moscow, 25 percent), construction and engineering group Kvaerner a.s. (Norway, 20 percent), and NPO-Yuzhnoye (Ukraine, 15 percent.)
The company plans to use a converted oil rig ("Odyssey") to serve as an ocean-going launch platform. It will be complemented by an assembly and command Ship to serve as a mobile rocket assembly facility and sea-going Mission Control centre. The system will be used to launch commercial satellites using three-stage Sea Launch rockets, which are derived from the two-stage Zenit and the Block DM upper stage.

China: launch confusion

Has there been another launch delay at Xichang launch centre in Southwest China? Who knows.
Yesterday, officials said that the Philippine communications satellite Mabuhay would be launched aboard a new-generation Long March 3B rocket between August 8 and 10. Today, China's official news agency Xinhua said the launch would happen between August 10 and 12.
However, Xinhua also said that the launch of Apstar 2A will indeed take place in September and not, as originally announced, in late August. Surprise, surprise: Xinhua now claims there never was an August date, and that the September launch is in accordance with the original plan. [So, is this kind of 2+2=5 brainwashing China's new strategy to regain international customers' trust?]
Speaking to reporters who were invited to Xichang, control centre chief engineer Mao Di said that "the coming launches will all basically use the 3B rocket because the thrust is greater." [The question remains: in which direction -- vertical or horizontal?]
He explained that the Intelsat-708 disaster that cost the lives of at least six people was caused by an electrical problem linked to the inertial platform -- a device that tells rockets where they are now in relation to the Earth but has proven harmful on several launch failures (not only those of Chinese rockets.)
"Ironically, the inertial reference systems aren't needed for flight operations at all. They just tell the computer where the rocket is before lift-off. Usually, the systems stay switched on for some 40 seconds into the flight. Otherwise, realigning the systems would take about an hour should the countdown be halted shortly before launch." That was how I commented the results of the investigation into the Ariane-5 launch failure almost exactly one year ago -- so, it's not a specific problem of the Chinese. Anyway, according to Mao, "the problem has been solved. The Long March 3B is reliable."
What if not? "If we have any safety problem we can blow the rocket up. We have a vehicle destruction system. By this we can avoid the launch vehicle endangering life or property."

Commercial eye in the sky

Orbital Sciences Corporation announced that it is planning to launch its OrbView-2 satellite into low-Earth orbit on Friday, August 1, 1997. Orbital will launch OrbView-2 aboard the company's Pegasus XL rocket.
For the OrbView-2 mission, Orbital will use the western range of the U.S. located at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The launch is set for 1:20 p.m. PDT, with an available time window that extends from 1:17 p.m. to 1:25 p.m.
Once launched, OrbView-2 will propel itself to a higher orbit by using on-board hydrazine propulsion. Orbital expects this process, plus routine spacecraft check-out procedures, to take approximately six weeks before commercial and scientific imagery can begin to be collected by the satellite.
OrbView-2 is the second of a series of commercial imaging satellites to be operated by the company's Orbital Imaging Corporation subsidiary. Once in orbit, OrbView-2 will be the world's first privately-owned satellite to provide multi-spectral images of the Earth's ocean and land surfaces that will be used by NASA, other scientific researchers, commercial customers... and DIY spies.
Oh well, it's all pretty harmless after all. Orbital Imaging will also market OrbView-2 imagery to organisations involved in commercial fishing, coastal monitoring and agriculture management.
During the next several years, Orbital Imaging plans to operate three satellites that perform separate missions. The company currently operates OrbView-1, a commercial atmospheric monitoring satellite launched in 1995. Initial phases of construction for OrbView-3, the third member of the satellite family, have already begun, with an expected in-service date approximately two years from now. OrbView-3 is designed to provide high-quality, one-meter resolution digital images of the Earth's land surfaces. That's when DIY spies will get really excited.


Hughes goes V-band

What a shame! I searched all the past issues of Sat-ND, but none of them contained any reference to Expressway. Maybe because it's pretty new.
What, might you ask, is Expressway? Of course, it's one of those sexy new satellite systems. This one is planned by Hughes in conjunction with various partners which will have to shell out US$4 billion to make it become a reality some 52 months after it is awarded a license. In an application filed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC,) Hughes is seeking "pioneer's preference designation" for their system. Its 14 geostationary satellites feature on-board switching and laser-based inter-satellite connectivity. The system offers 600,000 T1 lines, and every single satellite would be able to cope with 42,000 users simultaneously.
Hughes wants to utilise ten orbital slots for Expressway. Two satellites each would be located at 99, 101 and 103 degrees West -- directly over the U.S. -- and at 10 degrees East (Europe/Africa.) The other positions, each occupied by a single satellite, are
All this seems to be in a very early stage as Hughes hasn't even decided whether to uses its HS601 or HS702 platform for the satellites. Anyway, the spacecraft will be high-power versions that can be put into orbit by a variety of launch vehicles.
As far as bandwidth is concerned, Hughes has asked for 500 MHz in the Ku-band (12.75-14.5 GHz uplink and 10.7-12.75 GHz downlink) and 600 MHz in V-band (47.2-50.2 GHz uplink and 39.5-42.5 GHz downlink). Depending on international availability, other frequencies could be utilised as well.

New generation GPS

Here's a bit more on the recently launched GPS satellite, courtesy of Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space.
The company will actually supply 20 of these spacecraft, designated GPS IIR, to the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Centre, El Segundo, CA, over the next five years.
"The GPS IIR satellites are designed to provide significant improvements in the navigational services for users of the system around the globe," said Mike Henshaw, president of Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space.
The Global Positioning System allows any user equipped with a GPS receiver to determine velocity and world-wide position -- latitude, longitude and altitude -- within a few meters. Both position data and velocity are given at a precise reference time. Although originally designed as a guidance and navigational tool for the U.S. military, GPS has proven beneficial in the fields of transportation, surveying, as well as search and rescue operations, and has created a tremendous demand in new commercial and civil markets.
The GPS IIR satellites are compatible with the current system, but offer improved performance. Increased navigation accuracy and longer autonomous satellite operation without ground control corrections will improve service for the Air Force customer and other users.

Fengyun 2 again

When China's news agency Xinhua reported on the fate of the country's latest achievement, the weather satellite Fengyun 2, it used a rather strange phrase. The spacecraft, Xinhua said, was in "stable condition."
Anyway, the patient's condition is not that serious as it has been taken quite a few nice snapshots recently. It "has sent back many clear photos of the earth since it was launched in June 10," Xinhua quoted the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The pictures have already been shown as part of the weather forecast broadcast by China Central Television (CCTV).
The key sounding device on the satellite is the multi-channel scanning radiometer, the result of 15 years' work of scientists from the Institute of Technical Physics and five other institutes and factories. It can monitor the dynamic meteorological changes above China and neighbouring countries from its geosynchronous orbit 35,800 kilometres above the Earth. It also provides up-to-date meteorological information that is valuable for short- and long-term weather forecasts and for natural disasters, Xinhua said.

Copyright 07/97 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.

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