Sat-ND, 18.9.1997 Trying to get out of the cold water
First of all, I'd like to thank all contributors who prefer not to be mentioned by name.
Secondly, I have to tell you that until further notice Sat-ND may... no, it will in fact be issued sporadically rather than daily. I don't know how long this will last, but prepare yourself for major outages over the next two or three weeks. Sorry folks, just gotta earn some money from time to time.
The launch of Western Europe's second Ariane-5 rocket from French Guiana, originally scheduled for September 30, has [once more] been postponed. A new launch date will not be announced before September 25.
In a joint statement, the European Space Agency ESA and France's CNES said that "additional studies and tests at launcher system level and below have proven necessary. While these have now almost all been completed with satisfactory results, some checks relating to analysis of the launcher's dynamic behaviour have yet to be completed."
"The launcher preparation campaign began on June 16 in French-Guiana and is proceeding satisfactorily. The data output from the Launcher Countdown Rehearsal, which took place on 5 September, has now been analysed and the results are correct and in accordance with predictions."
The 10-year US$9 billion programme, designed to keep Europe in the lead in launching heavy satellites, suffered a serious setback after the unsuccessful Ariane-5 maiden flight in June 1996. An investigation board pinpointed faulty computer software in the rocket's navigation system as the main reason for the spectacular failure. Meanwhile, Arianespace has ordered ten more Ariane 4 launchers, making it unlikely that the reliable rocket will be replaced by Ariane 5 before 2000 as planned.
FAISat 2B is definitely one of the most entertaining satellites, even though it's rather small. So small, actually, that in can be launched aboard a rather light rocket that carries a full-blown Kosmos spacecraft on board. Is that funny?
No, but it just can't seem to get off the ground, and besides it's the first of yet another armada of Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites that will provide you with everything you want. The 115-kg FAISat 2B spacecraft is an experimental communications satellite that was to be launched last April from Russia's Plesetsk cosmodrome aboard a Kosmos 3-M rocket on behalf of the U.S. company FAI.
FAI plans to deploy a global satellite communications system by the year 2000, comprising 26 and four in-orbit spares. It will cost the trifle of almost US$3 billion. The first experimental FAISat (NORAD 23465) is already in orbit, circling the Earth at an altitude of 1000 kilometres it was launched back in January 1995.
FAISat 2B isn't, just because FAI's Russian contractor Polyot, which manufactures the Kosmos-3M rocket and the Kosmos satellite, failed to deliver certain documents needed for the launch in time (Sat-ND, 17.4.97.) As Russia obviously does not launch Kosmos series satellites quite as frequently as in the good old days, FAISat had to wait a few months until being put into orbit cost-effectively as a secondary payload. Russian news agency Itar-Tass cited unofficial sources as saying the launch costs were slightly over US$100,000.
FAI is expected to enter a long-term agreement about using the Kosmos-3M should the launch, which is now expected to take place on September 23, be a success. A rocket of that type could launch five FAISat spacecraft at a time.
And there's another launch planned for September 23. Intelsat 803 will [hopefully] be put into orbit by a European Ariane 42L launcher taking off from French Guiana.
Intelsat 803 will be deployed at 21.3 degrees West. However, if the latest problems with Intelsat 605 (Sat-ND, 15.9.97) persist, that may change (Intelsat said "an Intelsat VIII will be deployed to 27.5° West to release Intelsat 601" in the wake of the planned satellite reshuffling.)
Coverage of the launch will be on GE-2, 85 degrees West, in the C-band on transponder 20. For those who can receive the transmission: the launch window is open between 7:58 p.m. and 8:47 p.m. ET. Other satellites, other time zones? Sorry, dunno! Nothing about that on Arianespace's Web site.
A reader who prefers not to be named asked me whether I missed the news that the Turk Telecom-led Eurasiasat company of Monaco expects to sign a contract by October with Paris-based Aerospatiale for the construction of a direct-broadcast television satellite to beam programming to Turkish-speaking populations in Europe and the Mideast.
Yes, I missed that one! Not only that (I am missing quite a lot ;-) as a matter of fact, I've never ever heard of a satellite by that name. [Remember, I am not an expert but merely a news collector.] The satellite, however, is to be launched in October 1999 and will be co-located with Turksat 1C at 42 degrees East. Turksat 1C is nearly fully booked, maybe because it leases a transponder for US$3 million per year. On the other hand, it's not very flexible as far as I know as its main purpose is the transmission of analogue DTH TV to Turkey. A second beam can be received in certain parts of Europe, notably Germany with its strong Turkish minority, with medium-sized dishes.
What my reader apparently would like to know: who is going to supply the payload? He claims Aerospatiale currently does not have any payload capability and will only supply the satellite bus. The past Turksat payloads were supplied by Alcatel Espace. Anybody have any ideas? Upon request, your answer will be kept confidential.
Japan's SkyPort Center Corp. will scrap its analogue nine-channel TV satellite service at the end of September 1998 and go digital, Japan's news agency Kyodo reported.
SkyPort, comprising eight satellite TV programme suppliers, offers channels such as CNN News, Star Channel and Super Channel [very Japanese, indeed] to a total of 91,000 households. The company will broadcast its channels digitally via DirecTV, slated for launch November this year.
Skyport will soon stop taking up subscriptions for the analogue service. The company said it will help replace the analogue receivers with digital boxes for existing subscribers. [Whatever that means they're probably not going to give their customers a box for free.]
Canadian company ComStream announced a distribution agreement for its line of satellite broadcast products with NPR Satellite Services of Washington, D.C., a commercial sales unit of the U.S.' National Public Radio's distribution division.
NPR Satellite Services provides programming, distribution services and products for NPR's 570 member stations and other public and commercial radio stations and producers. Among the products to be represented by NPR is ComStream's new ABR202 digital audio receiver that can be used for radio program and news distribution, point-of-purchase audio with advertising insertion, and data broadcasting.
Interconnecting more than 400 non-commercial radio stations in the United States and Puerto Rico, the system managed by NPR is the pipeline for distributing thousands of hours of programming from nearly 250 producers. National Public Radio Inc. is a private, not-for-profit membership organization based in Washington, D.C.
ComStream is an international provider of digital transmission solutions for voice, data, audio and video applications. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Canada's Spar Aerospace Ltd.
NetChannel of San Francisco, USA, debuted a personalised content service, supposedly adding value to television programming by enhancing it with what they call relevant Web material.
Now, of course, you don't need the World Wide Web for that. Good old Teletext, which has been around in Europe for more than a century, does the same job on a no-nonsense basis, and of course at no charge. [I know what I'm talking about I worked for a German teletext service until last year as a freelancer, and I'm afraid to say that since I quit its quality has dramatically deteriorated as far as satellite news are concerned ;-] If you have a telephone in the vicinity of your TV, teletext is even interactive (in that case, you may have to pay quite a lot for your calls, so beware of any commercial channels ripping you off.)
Now, back to NetChannel. Users will be directed to a Web site of their choice or to one of the service's customised Web pages. The channels included in the service are entertainment, news, lifestyles, sports, learning and finance. How exciting. In contrast to its competitor WebTV (Sat-ND, 17.9.97,) NetChannel claims it were an "open" service developed to run on various browsers, platforms and hardware devices.
If none of those various devices are available, though, you might want to notice that the NetChannel service is bundled with RCA Electronics' Internet set-top device by the name of n|c 100. Available now, it comes with a remote control and even a keyboard for just US$299. Wow!
09.97 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De.
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