Sat-ND, 1.9.97

Sat-ND 97-09-01

Life is a strange thing 
Just when you think you know how to use it it's gone

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(c) Copyright by Peter C. Klanowski

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Editorial note
As you may have noticed, I've experienced some trouble sending Sat-ND in
HTML format. Using Netscape for this obviously resulted in only HTML being
sent, even though I checked the option "HTML and Text." Bash Marc, not
As a consequence, Sat-ND will be delivered in plain text for the time being
(a few days, I think, until I manage to get hold of the StarOffice Fixpack
2 -- just 30 MBytes.) 


A Chinese Changzheng (Long March) rocket, carrying two Iridium satellite
dummies owned by Motorola, was successfully launched from the Taiyuan
Satellite Launching Centre in North China's Shanxi Province.
The carrier, based upon on the Long-March-2-III was the first of its type
ever launched. The China Rocket Carrier Technology Research Institute
developed this upgraded model of the Long-March-2-III especially for
launching iridium satellites. It sent the two satellite dummies into the
preset orbit, reported China's Xinhua news agency.
The three-stage rocket carrier is 40 m in length, 3.35 m in diameter and
weighs 213 tons when launched. It has what Xinhua called "an additional
distributor to send satellites from the initial holding pattern to the
final, elliptic orbit, discharging them in succession" -- probably
something like the 'fourth stage' a.k.a. 'accelerator block' on Russian
rockets that is not really part of the rocket but payload.
It was the 47th flight of a Long March class rocket. The purpose of the
flight was to check the performance and quality of the rocket and the
Taiyuan Launching Centre, a preparatory step before the future official
launch of two Iridium satellites. Under the contract signed with Motorala,
which leads the Iridium consortium, 22 satellites will be put into orbit
over the coming few years starting later this year.
Observers noted, however, that China was depending on the three-stage,
liquid-fuelled Long March 3B, which can lift satellites weighing almost
five tonnes into high orbit, as its main vehicle for the three commercial
launches scheduled for this year.
More than 80 launches, 90 percent of which were successful, have taken
place from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre, according to Xinhua one of
China's major space technology bases. The centre has a variety of launch
pads and can launch short, medium and long-range rockets carrying low-,
medium- and high-orbit satellites into space. The probably most important
launch was that of weather satellite Fengyun-I aboard a Long March IV
rocket, marking China's ability to put satellites into polar orbit.

Russia's Khrunichev space centre and Lockheed Martin of the United States
plan to carry out 20 international space launches by the year 2000, said.
Khrunichev's deputy general director Yevgeny Karachenkov. Speaking at the
2nd international aerospace congress in Moscow, he also said the company's
joint venture International Launch Services (ILS) plans to take over half
of the world's market of commercial space launches and offer full service
from making satellites to launching them.

Miracl -- apart from the fact that such a word drives any word processor's
spellchecker nuts, it sounds like a wonderful new product introduced on
"Amazing Discoveries." But it does not miraculously refresh your old car's
finish, neither will it remove stains from your carpet nor slice vegetables
in an orderly way. Maybe you can roast a chicken in half the time or even
much faster, but that's not what Miracl was created for.
Miracl is a giant laser gun, made in USA, that will destroy satellites --
or whenever possibly, just knock 'em off by gradually increasing the fire
power (probably because blowing a satellite into smithereens would create a
vast amount of debris that might endanger 'friendly' satellites as well.)
That's at least what the U.S. army wants to test this month, according to
the New York Times. The giant laser, called Mid-infrared Advanced Chemical
Laser (or Miracl for short,) is located at a White Sands Missile Range in
the New Mexico desert. An elderly air force communications satellite the
size of a fridge has been chosen as the target -- even though its
manufacturer, Spectrum Astro of Gilbert, Arizona, said it still had a
useful life. After all, it cost just US$60 million, probably much less than
the Army's wonder gun.
Miracl has been around quite a while, actually, and has been used to blow
up ground targets and rockets in flight. [Sounds just like that SDI
stuff -- I thought the U.S. had given up that nonsense?] The U.S. Army was
banned from firing at satellites until 1995, when the Republican-controlled
Congress let the ban expire. Permission to use the laser would have to come
from the U.S. secretary of defense, expectedly after conferring with the
White House.

As regular readers might be aware of; I consider Sat-ND to contain too many
U.S. news in general. Labor Day finally gives me the opportunity to bang
the drum for European space technology ;-)
One of the key objectives of European Space Agency's (ESA) internal and
external Reserach and Development is to enhance the ability of the European
space industry to compete on world markets. This effort has been
successful, for instance, in the case of the Inmarsat 3 communication
satellite series, for which European industry won the payload procurement
Matra Marconi Space has delivered five communication payloads to Lockheed
Martin for the Inmarsat 3 series of satellites, four of which have been
successfully launched since April 1996, the last on 3 June 1997 from Kourou
by an Ariane 44L launcher, (Flight 97).
These payloads generate a set of L-Band spot beams for world-wide voice and
data communication services to mobile terminals as small as pocket-size
messaging units on ships, aircraft and vehicles, using the latest spot-beam
technology providing power-efficient dynamic allocation of communication
traffic to beams and allowing greater re-use of the available spectrum.
The efficient spot-beam technology has a novel antenna front-end, invented
at the European Space Agency's technical centre, ESTEC in Noordwijk (the
Netherlands), by Dr Antoine Roederer, and licensed by ESA to Matra Marconi
Space. The new technology in effect allows an optimal power efficiency of
the communications payload, maximising channel capacity. According to
Inmarsat, the operational in-flight performance of the antenna has exceeded
The novel semi-active antenna technology has been recognised as being
outstandingly efficient in both flexibility and power consumption, and is
being adopted world-wide for use in the next generation of geostationary
personal communication satellites.


Thuraya is by no means a spectacular satellite system, so it's not quite
clear why there are so many news available. More than a dozen issues of
this so-called newsletter so far contain references to the satellite-based
mobile phone system, which is to be set up by Arab countries with the help
of Hughes Electronics.
It may be the Middle East's first mobile telephone satellite, covering
nearly 1.8 billion people in the Middle East, India, Bangladesh, Iran,
North Africa, Turkey, Italy, France, Germany and other parts of Europe. A
second satellite is planned to extend services to Thailand, Singapore, Hong
Kong, Indonesia and other countries. The US$-1.2 billion (some sources say
it's cheaper, I know ;-) system has a drawback, however, as relatively
large antennas will reportedly be needed for users' handsets.
Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Company has now opened negotiations
with Hughes Electronics of the United States on a contract to build and
launch the two satellites. Thuraya chairman, Mohammad Omran, pointed out
that "there will be no deal before signing." He expects an agreement on
technical and contractual matters to be reached within the next few days so
that the contract can be signed on September 11 as planned.
In particular, it is yet unclear how the satellites will be put into orbit
-- aboard a European Ariane rocket, a Russian Proton or even from
SeaLaunch's ocean-going launch platform. The first launch is planned for
the first half of 2000.
At an extraordinary general assembly in Abu Dhabi, shareholders approved a
board proposal to increase Thuraya's capital from US$25 million to U$500
million. Or, less complicated: "We have decided to finance part of the
project through borrowing a maximum sum of 500 million dollars," as Omran
put it.


According to Japan's leading economic daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun, a
consortium led by Toshiba Corp. will enter the digital satellite
broadcasting business as soon as by 2000.
Plans include delivery of audio and video to portable and mobile receivers;
in fact, car drivers seem to be the main target. The consortium, consisting
of Toshiba, Japan Satellite Systems Inc., four trading houses, four radio
stations and three other partners, will sell receivers for less than
50,000. It is hoped to have them installed in about 15 percent of all
vehicles in Japan within few years after the launch of the service that
will offer 30 to 40 channels radio and TV channels. [And still, I don't see
a general demand for TV reception in cars -- I guess most people don't have
a chauffeur and should therefore concentrate on driving.] 


World Media Network (WMN) has brought on its first affiliate, WJML-AM of
Petoski, Michigan, USA. (No, not Petushki, should you happen to know the
truly brilliant novel 'Moskva-Petushki' by Venedict Yerofeyev, one of the
best books published this century. No idea what the English translation is
called, if there is any; the German translation is sold under "Die Reise
nach Petuschki" [Journey to Petushki.])
World Media Network, in a nutshell, is promising affiliated radio stations
to make money from the Internet with its Radio Web service (Sat-ND,
16.7.97.) Given the number of radio stations in the U.S., it's somewhat
astonishing that there aren't more affiliates yet even though many stations
have web pages of their own.
The WJML agreement adds current news, entertainment and business classified
content features to station's Web site at http://www.wjml.com. WMN provides
specific news categories that WJML selects from a vast array of topics.
News feeds are automatically downloaded to the WMN site via satellite and
then constantly updated with the latest relevant news.
WJML makes money by banner advertising for the news feature, classified
advertising sales, and monthly subscription fees for the singles network --
another WMN service. All the bartered services are branded to the station
and are exclusive to the market.
But back to the important issues. I can't give you more links than the
following two as it's midnight local time and no single search engine is
reacting to my queries. Maybe my ISP isn't just a high-end as they claim...
Some quotes from Moskva-Petushki (in English):
How to get to Petushki:

You will most likely never heard of NAVASPUR, the Naval Space Surveillance
System. Based in Wichita Falls, Texas (USA,) NAVASOUR is a satellite
tracking facility run on behalf of the U.S. Navy.
According to local papers, the facility's [radar] transmitter is the most
powerful of its kind in the world, tracking thousands of satellites, and is
a backup for the country's defence system as well as a resource for
scientists. Although the transmitter is the Navy's responsibility,
day-to-day operations are overseen by Rick Montoya Services of Dahlgren,
Virginia. About 22 employees work at the Lake Kickapoo site in Wichita
Employees now complained they have not been paid for a month, and some are
threatening to stop work -- pay checks kept bouncing again and again even
after being replaced by new ones. Company program manager Harry Witherite
said "bank problems" are to blame, and the NAVASPUR work has not been
affected. "It's not a cash-flow problem," he added. "I can tell you this
much: We're not in default of the Navy contract," he told local papers.


Cable and Wireless Communications, Britain's biggest cable group, dismissed
newspaper reports it had agreed in principle to use BSkyB as its
pay-per-view programme supplier. The company instead said it was still
considering options.
Newspapers reported that the cable telephone and television giant had
abandoned plans to develop its own subscription television service,
favouring a deal between CWC and BSkyB that could be announced within
weeks. Although CWC has been in discussions with BSkyB about the provision
of pay-per-view services, the company insisted that "significant issues"
remained unresolved and no agreement had yet been made.
CWC is also in talks with On Demand, a group led by cable company Telewest
Communications Plc, which wants to create a pay-per-view service to rival
BSkyB. A deal with both BSkyB and On Demand also remains a possibility.
"We're still weighing up the options and making up our minds which would be
best for customers," a CWC spokesman said.
The Financial Times reported earlier that a contract with BSkyB would
contain "limited unbundling" of the broadcaster's package of channels after
cable companies have called on BSkyB to offer its channels individually to
subscribers. The CWC spokesman said that "We'd be delighted if that was the
case. But they have yet to do that."


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