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Sat-ND, 14.10.97




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Sat-ND 97-10-14 -- Back from the woods

This service is provided free of charge for personal use. It may be used and redistributed for non-commercial purposes only, provided the following notice is included:

(c) Copyright by Peter C. Klanowski

http://www.lynet.de/~pck/http://www.sat-net.com/pck/

Sat-ND is sponsored by TELE-satellite International

More mailing lists: http://www.TELE-satellit.com/

Satellite Charts: http://www.satcodx.com/

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TODAY'S HEADLINES:

DELAY OF THE DAY

Cassini/Huygens

LAUNCHES

APSTAR 2R launch imminent

Foton launched by MSF

SATELLITES

Intelsat 803 takes over

Connecting Iridium

STAR WARS

The MIRACL that didn't happen (so far)

Satellite News from Ukraine and France

BUSINESS

Loral snatches Orion

SkyBridge welcomes Toshiba

Libya invests in Thuraya

France sells Thomson-CSF

CHANNELS

France back on Arabsat

DIGITAL

No more soccer for you

RUPERTWATCH

BBC to launch news channel

No pay-TV merger in Oz

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DELAY OF THE DAY

Cassini/Huygens

Consult your favourite newspaper for details <ggg>. The launch of the controversial Saturn mission had been delayed by two days for various reasons including inclement weather. The launch is now expected to take place tomorrow, Wednesday.



LAUNCHES

APSTAR 2R launch imminent

China plans to launch three more satellites this year, including the long-awaited Apstar 2R which will within the next days be launched using a domestically produced Chang Zheng (Long March) 3B rocket. The two others are Iridium satellites.

Delayed for several times (and expected for "early October",) the launch will now take place either later this week or early next week, i. e. between next Thursday and next Monday from the Chinese launch centre at Xichang. Apstar 2R is a replacement for Apstar 2 which was destroyed in early 1995 in a failed Long March launch. Half of ApStar-2R's transponder capacity has already been leased or committed.


Foton launched by MSF

Russian Missile Strategic Forces (MSF, not to be confused with Russia's Space Forces) launched a Foton research satellite on a Soyuz booster rocket from Russia's Plesetsk cosmodrome.According to the MSF, Foton's mission is space technology research and testing of the on-board equipment. The satellite is also expected to be used in commercial launches.



SATELLITES

Intelsat 803 takes over

Communications services on Intelsat 601 at 27.5W were transferred this week to the newly deployed and more powerful Intelsat 803 satellite, the International Satellite Telecommunications Organisation said in a press release.

This transfer was the first of three service transitions being performed to accommodate the September telemetry unit anomaly on the Intelsat 605 at 24.5W. After in-orbit testing, Intelsat 803 was moved into position and switched on at 27.5W, using the Pass-In-The-Night (PIN) technique. All services at this location were maintained during the transition, with nearly 90% of these remaining at the same frequencies, polarisation and orbital locations. The remainder were transferred to alternate satellites.

This transition is the first step in releasing the best satellite to ultimately replace Intelsat 605 at 24.5 W, Intelsat said. Their 605 was still fully operational and no service degradations have been detected, but as a precautionary measure, the spacecraft will be re-deployed to a less demanding location. With Intelsat 803 satellite now in place, Intelsat 601 will replace Intelsat 603 at 34.5 W, allowing Intelsat 603 to replace Intelsat 605 at 24.5 W. Intelsat 605 will be moved to the currently open slot at 29.5 W.


Connecting Iridium

Iridium successfully tested communications links between the 34 satellites it has in orbit, and is ahead of schedule in terms of building and running the network through trials.Roy Grant, Iridium chief financial officer, said the company "successfully tested 75 percent of the equipment needed to make a voice call." Testing of the full system will begin in May, and the service plans to begin commercial operations in September 1998.The Iridium consortium, led by Motorola, will offer a global voice and paging service through a network of 66 low-Earth orbit satellites.



STAR WARS

The MIRACL that didn't happen (so far)

The U.S. Army has, as announced, tried to fire its wonder laser gun MIRACL at an elderly Air Force satellite in order to blind it. In fact, they tried to do so twice over the past few days.

The first attempt failed because of a software glitch, the second one was scratched because of excessive cloud cover. It is unclear whether there will be a third attempt to kill the satellite as the Air Force said its batteries are losing power, and the satellite must retain some power so officials can put it into an orbit that will allow it to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere.

There's a well-defined deadline: the test has to be performed until October 23 when the satellite will, owing to the mechanics of its orbit, stop getting adequate sunlight. Defense Secretary William Cohen has asked Army officials to keep looking for a chance to try out the laser. Experts believe there will be several chances to zap the satellite before that date -- weather permitting.

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I interrupt this so-called newsletter to bring you a message from its generous sponsor. Not very nice of me to do it this way, I know.

Satellite News from Ukraine and France

Two new satellite news mailers have just started. Both are edited by well-known and experienced satellite enthusiasts. One is Yuriy Pechurkin from the city of Donetsk in South-Eastern Ukraine. He reports on his satellite sightings, and what is new on those satellites he can receive. His satellite news mailer is called SAT-donetsk.

The satellite news mailer form France is edited by Christophe Cartier, who is located in the city of Grenoble in the South-Eastern part of France. He, too, reports on what is new on those satellites available at his location. His mailer is consequently named SAT-grenoble.

Both satellite news mailers are free to subscribe to. They arrive at anyone's Email mailbox as a free service from satellite enthusiasts to other satellite enthusiasts, and to keep everybody informed on what is going on with satellite channels.

Those two new satellite news mailers are part of a network of many other similar satellite news mailers from different parts of the world. For a complete run-down of all satellite news mailers, which are all FREE to subscribe to, point your browser at http://www.TELE-satellite.com

Most satellite news mailers do co-operate closely with the world's most accurate and most diligently up-dated satellite frequency chart, which can be found at http://www.satcodx.com

TELE-satellite is a bi-monthly glossy satellite trade magazine, published in German and English, covering all aspects of receiving satellites.

My apologies for that but they said they'd kill me if I did not include this press release. (Just kiddin'.) We now return you to our regularly scheduled programme.

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BUSINESS

Loral snatches Orion

Not too long ago, satellite manufacturer Hughes took over Panamsat. It's not a real surprise that one of Hughes' competitors has now struck a similar deal.

Orion Network Systems, Inc has entered into a definitive merger agreement in which Loral Space & Communications Ltd. is to acquire satellite operator Orion in exchange for Loral common stock. The equity value of the transaction is approximately US$490 million.

Orion owns and operates the Orion 1 satellite, placed in service in January 1995, serving the European, transatlantic and U.S. markets and has two additional satellites under construction. Orion's transponder capacity will increase substantially with the launching of Orion 3, scheduled for service in January 1999, covering the Asia Pacific region, and Orion 2, which will serve the Americas and Europe beginning in June 1999. Orion serves a customer base of 260 multinational businesses and Internet service providers in 47 countries via approximately 630 installed terminals (earth stations or very small aperture terminals) that receive networked value-added services from Orion 1. The Company also transmits video communications for television and other program distribution services. But that's not its main business.

Orion's strategy is to expand globally with high value-added networking solutions, including transoceanic Internet access to service providers [even my Internet provider now utilises Orion 1 for U.S. Internet traffic. Unfortunately, my first impression that this made Internet access faster was completely false; it's darn slow -- just as before.] The Internet business yields significantly greater revenues per transponder than traditional satellite transponder leasing businesses.

Orion complements and extends Loral's current resources in Skynet, Globalstar and CyberStar, contributing a key networking capability positioned to serve the fast-growing, multibillion-dollar corporate data and Internet markets.

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 1998. Although not a condition of the transaction, Orion intends to seek ruling to be eligible for a tax break. Loral is also entering into agreements with approximately 35 percent of the holders of Orion's stock, the effect of which will be to require them to vote in favour of the transaction and will give Loral an option to buy those shares in certain circumstances. The boards of directors of both Loral and Orion have approved the transaction. The deal is subject to approval under federal antitrust laws and by the Federal Communications Commission and Orion shareholders.


SkyBridge welcomes Toshiba

SkyBridge Limited Partnership announced that Toshiba Corp. of Japan has agreed to invest in the US$3.5 billion SkyBridge satellite project.The project, which will provide broadband access for high-speed Internet and multimedia services, is led by global telecommunications giant Alcatel Alsthom and includes Loral Space & Communications Corp.The SkyBridge system is based on a constellation of 64 low-earth orbiting (LEO) satellites, which will deliver global connectivity to business and residential users with a performance similar to terrestrial broadband technologies (downstream speeds of up to 60 Mbps, with up to two Mbps on the return link).

SkyBridge will begin service provisioning in 2001 and is -- somehow -- expected to co-operate with Loral's CyberStar. Services will be delivered locally through local telecoms operators and service providers.The SkyBridge system will optimise the use of the frequency spectrum by operating in the Ku-band, while fully protecting existing geostationary and terrestrial users of that band through an innovative concept of frequency re-use.

Mitsubishi, another Japanese company, was also expected to join Skybridge. Although a deal with the French firm has not been finalised, details should fall into place this month for buying equity shares in Skybridge Ltd, officials said.The deal would make Mitsubishi Electric one of the companies providing components and equipment for the Skybridge satellite system. Mitsubishi is looking to hold a stake of just under 10%, investing around 10 million dollars.



Libya invests in Thuraya

Libya has taken a five percent stake worth US$25 million in Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Co, the Abu Dhabi-based company said.The deal, transferring five percent of Thuraya's equity from UAE telephone firm and major Thuraya shareholder Etisalat to the General Post and Telecommunications Co of Libya, brings the total number of investors in Thuraya to 16.

Not really a surprise, but now it's official. Mexico's Communication and Transport Ministry said that three groups had registered to bid for the privatisation of the government's satellites: 

* ControlSat SA and GE American Communications, a unit of General Electric

* Telefonica Autrey SA and Loral Space and Communications Ltd 

* Industrias Penoles SA and (Hughes') PanAmSat Corp

The Mexican government is selling off a 60 percent stake of Satelites Mexicanos (SatMex), with the winner holding an option to take an additional 15 percent stake. The remaining ownership would trade on the Mexican Stock Exchange. The winner is due to be announced on November 7.


France sells Thomson-CSF

The French government wants to sell its majority stake in defence and electronics group Thomson-CSF to the electronics and communications firm Alcatel to create a globally competitive alliance."The government has asked Thomson-CSF and Aerospatiale to start negotiations with Alcatel Alsthom and Dassault Industries as soon as possible in order to conclude an industrial pact," the government said in a statement.The government pointed out it would remain the company's biggest shareholder with a stake of more than 35 percent. It currently has 58 percent of Thomson-CSF.

Last December, the former conservative government cancelled an attempt to sell Thomson-CSF's holding company, Thomson SA, to Lagardere, a French conglomerate. There were complaints about Lagardere's plan to sell Thomson's troubled consumer electronics unit to South Korean company Hyundai.



CHANNELS

France back on Arabsat

Arab satellite operator Arabsat said it had agreed to lease transmission time to France's Channel TV5, using a channel of the United Arab Emirates (UAE.) The UAE welcomed the French request, as it included a pledge to respect Arab traditions, culture and the religious teaching.An Arabsat statement said TV5, a French-language television channel, which is owned by various state broadcasting organisations in France, would prepare "special programmes that conform with Arab and Islamic codes of conduct."The Riyadh, Saudi Arabia based Arabsat in July banned state-funded Canal France International (CFI) for broadcasting a hard-core pornographic film around the Arab world instead of a scheduled children's programme.CFI apologised for the incident which it said was a mistake by France Telecom which feeds French television programmes to satellites across the world.



DIGITAL

No more soccer for you

At least in Europe, there's growing concern that important football [soccer] matches won't be available to the general audience anymore but just to pay-TV subscribers.

Germany's Kirch group has, in conjunction with some Swiss companies, acquired the rights for the football World Cup from 2002. Wherever possible, the matches will be shown on pay-TV only. The World Football Association FIFA has meanwhile confirmed that only the opening game, semi-finals and final in 2002 have to be broadcast live free to air. It's still unclear where the remaining 60 matches can be watched -- it will probably depend on every country's TV landscape in 2002.

However, there's still hope. Not only that digital pay-TV won't work everywhere -- the European Commission is also having an eye on it. Commissioner Karel van Miert, who in the past has hampered some big-biz anti-consumer deals, was quoted as saying that "people should have access free of charge. I really cannot imagine that people would only be able to receive such events through pay television."

Anyway, 2002 is far away from now. What can you do to keep free-to-air TV alive? Just don't subscribe to any pay-TV service! In particular, refrain from subscribing to any digital TV service. They may be trendy, but they don't offer anything new -- and all that with a notably worse picture quality (anyone who has a different impression should clean their glasses.) All that repackaged kinda shit isn't worth the money anyway. Boycott pay-TV RIGHT NOW, that's all there is to it. It's all up to you.



RUPERTWATCH

By Dr Sarmaz

BBC to launch news channel

It seems as though the BBC has won the fight over its planned 24-hours news channel that was heavily opposed by Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB. BBC News 24 has been approved by the government and is now expected to launch next month. The exact launch date is still to be announced.The service will provide competition for Sky News, the round-the-clock news channel run by pay satellite TV giant British Sky Broadcasting Plc. "We look forward to competing with BBC 24-hour news as we have done with the BBC in sport," a BSkyB spokeswoman said.

Thing is, however, that that the BBC will offer its channel to cable operators for free while BSkyB charges them for Sky News. However, it remains to be seen whether BBC News 24 will be available to European satellite viewers like Sky News is. It will, however, also be shown on the BBC-1 terrestrial channel in the overnight slot when BBC-1 was previously off air.

BSkyB indicated that it would not seek to mount a legal challenge to government approval for the BBC service but said it believed there was no demand for another news station. Shares in British Sky Broadcasting Plc slipped last Friday following reports about the new BBC channel.


No pay-TV merger in Oz

There's even more bad news for Mr Murdoch as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has blocked the merger of satellite television operator Australis Media Ltd with Foxtel, a joint venture between Mr Murdoch's News Corp Ltd and Australian telecommunications company Telstra Corp Ltd.

The ACCC sought a court injunction to block the planned merger between the pay TV groups on the grounds the merger was likely to damage competition in the local telephony and pay television markets.

Australis said it would vigorously contest the ACCC decision. "The ACCC action is based on very spurious grounds that we don't subscribe to," an Australis spokesman said. "We are going to fight the action in court on Thursday."

The third pay-TV service, Optus, which is 49 percent owned by Cable and Wireless Plc, welcomed the ACCC decision. "We believe allowing this merger to go ahead represents the worst possible scenario for Australian consumers."

The Australian pay-TV sector so far has accumulated losses of about A$3.0 billion. All industry players agree there needs to be some form of rationalisation, but differ on how it should be done.

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Copyright (c) 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.For information on how to subscribe or unsubscribe, send email to Majordomo@tags1.dn.net (_not_ to me, please) and include the linehelpin the body of your message. Or have a look at: http://www.lynet.de/~pck/mailer.htmlhttp://www.sat-net.com/pck/mailer.html





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