Sat-ND, 29.10.1997 What does yy mean?
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:
© Copyright 1997 by Sat-ND
Please send contributions and comments regarding Sat-ND to Peter C. Klanowski, email: pck@LyNet.De
Sat-ND is sponsored by TELE-satellite International
Looking for a specific channel on satellite? Try Satco-DX
Unsubscribe now before it's too late!
This does not work with all browsers. For information on how to do it manually, have a look at the end of this message.
Ariane 5 arrives at launch pad
Matra Marconi's billion-dollar deal with Motorola
LAW & ORDER
Astra/SES sued for up to US$1 billion
The Grand Compromise
Nigerian Running Gag
No Phase 3D
Europe's second Ariane-5 rocket was moved to its launch pad in French Guiana today prior to its test flight slated for tomorrow, Thursday, between 1300 and 1600 UTC.
Launch preparations for flight 502 are on schedule. "I have great confidence that we have a vehicle that is more robust than 501," said ESA inspector general Massino Trella. "The modifications are such that it will reduce the risk of 'infant mortality' on a new system like this," he added.
So, what more could I say than "Go, baby, go!" [Even though there's no Phase 3D aboard.. Have a look at this embarrassing correction.]
Motorola Inc. and Matra Marconi Space S.A. announced plans for a "strategic alliance" for the development of the Celestri System, Motorola's planned global broadband satellite communications network.
Under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Matra Marconi Space would design and manufacture the satellite bus, or platform, to be used in the Celestri System, satellites that are being designed and built by Motorola. Matra Marconi Space, a joint venture company formed by Lagardere (France) and GEC (U.K.), is Europe's leading satellite manufacturer.
The subcontract Motorola intends to award to Matra Marconi Space calls for them to supply these systems for 70 low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites and on geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) satellite. The anticipated value of the subcontract is in excess of US$1 billion. Furthermore, Matra Marconi Space intends to participate financially in the Celestri operating venture when formed.
The Celestri global broadband communications network is expected to be operational by 2003. It will rely on a family of advanced communications satellites, ground stations and terminal equipment to deliver what Motorola i a press release described as "full range of broadband communications capabilities to telecommunications carriers and multinational companies, as well as small business and consumer customers, virtually anywhere on Earth.
"The Celestri System will use LEO satellites to provide multimedia and real-time interactive services such as desk-top videoconferencing, GEO satellites for broadcast and multicast services for news and entertainment, and a combination of LEO and GEO satellites to deliver a range of "hybrid" broadband services such as interactive television, software distribution and electronic books."
The history of Europe's most successful [and among Sat-ND readers, most hated] satellite system, Astra, is a very complicated one. It started out as a U.S. satellite invasion using a Luxembourg license.
Originally dubbed Coronet, the satellite (nobody even dared dreaming of a multi-satellite system back then) was soon denounced as Coca-Cola satellite by other European governments, notably that of France. That's one of the reasons why the U.S. participation in that project, notably that of Hughes Communications, was finally laid to rest.
Astra's forgotten history
It must have something to do with that almost forgotten history when now, much more than ten years later, a certain Dr Clay T Whitehead from Virginia, USA, has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. The defendants are SES, the Luxembourg-based Astra operating company, as well the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and SES board member Candace Johnson.
Johnson, to my knowledge a U.S. citizen, is ubiquitous as far as Luxembourg's efforts to provide the rest of Europe with new technologies are concerned. Not because Luxembourg is a high-tech country, far from it, but because it has quite a history of providing ways to circumnavigate national regulations of other European countries. Her last prominent appearance was in an Internet venture called Europe Online that bit the dust just a few months after it was launched.
Anyway, Dr Whitehead contends he has been deprived of his share of profits from the satellite system he helped develop. He is seeking compensatory and punitive damages that, if the jury agrees, could total above US$1 billion.
Whitehead claims he was recruited by Johnson in the early 1980s as part of a joint venture to develop a commercial television satellite system to broadcast programming throughout western Europe. After the U.S. partners had to quit the venture, he was given founders shares and received dividends.
This was more or less the famous license to print banknotes in your garage. But at some point in time, the stream of money ran dry. Luxembourg officials said they stopped his dividend payments because Whitehead violated a non-compete agreement. Whitehead, on the other hand, says SES "refused to provide any substantive information" on that claim.
International implications... and a gay ambassador
The lawsuit may even impact the relationship between the USA and Luxembourg. U.S. Senator Sam Brownback said in a letter to Secretary of State Secretary Madeleine Albright that "The U.S. government needs to send a strong message to our trading partners that we do not tolerate the misappropriation of U.S. technology and expertise." Another senator complained in a letter to Albright that while Whitehead "acted in good faith with Luxembourg in devising a technology and business plan for the network, he has now been ousted from the venture.
"Luxembourg appears to have used its sovereign power to gain access to proprietary information and knowledge -- developed by Dr. Whitehead -- without properly compensating him for the work product."
There's another twist to that story. Those senators are members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where the newly appointed ambassador to Luxembourg, James C Hormel, was due to appear today. He faces some opposition as he would be the first openly gay person to fill an envoy position. The panel he has to pass, however, is chaired by no-one else but arch-conservative Jesse Helms who has made no secret of his dislike for homosexuals in the past. Funnily enough, Hormel not involved in the Whitehead/SES lawsuit, but his enemies may use it to keep him from taking up his position.
I haven't mentioned this so far: The World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) began last Monday at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Geneva, Switzerland. Even though it will last until November 21, one of the early results may mean a setback for the planned Internet in the Sky, Teledesic.
SkyBridge officials said they had assembled enough votes to block a controversial frequency allocation for its rival Teledesic. The Ka-band allocation for Teledesic was made two years ago at the WARC 95, following heavy lobbying efforts by U.S. delegates. It can, however, be revoked if the current WARC fails to endorse it.
Reportedly, it looks like Teledesic would have to share the spectrum with its competitors such as SkyBridge and Celestri. In that case, SkyBridge would drop its opposition to the allocation. Skybridge will also receive frequencies in the Ku-band as part of the compromise. SkyBridge is controlled by French communications company Alcatel Alsthom and aims to co-operate with Loral's CyberStar satellite system-as well as Japan's Toshiba Corp.
Mark McCann, the head of Alcatel's World Radiocommunications Conference delegation: "Until about three months ago, Teledesic was very hostile in their opposition to us. But once they realised how many countries were behind us, a grand compromise became attractive."
The first time I mentioned Nigeria's efforts to launch an International TV channel was on June 15, 1995. Back then, this so-called newsletter was in German, so I'll spare you a repeat of that.
The issue kept popping up from year to year, so here's some background from last year:
The private company Minaj Systems from Obosi, Nigeria, was granted a license to operate a satellite TV channel. According to Nigeria's broadcasting commission, "the licence empowers the organisation to operate world-wide satellite television signals originating from Nigeria."
Nigeria is widely condemned for human rights abuses and lack of democracy. Unlikely as it may seem, the country's military government hopes to shift public opinion abroad with its international TV ambitions. It's still unclear when the rest of the world will be able to tune into Nigeria's home-made international TV. Another license had been issued some time ago, but so far, there has been no life sign from license holder DAAR Communications on any satellite. Reportedly, the company (which operates a radio station in Lagos) was finally able to get hold of some TV broadcasting equipment.
DAAR Communications chairman and chief executive Raymond Dokpesi said [the channel] would seek to integrate world culture (whatever that means.) "More importantly, it shall bridge the yawning gap in the world information order which perpetually places the black world at the mercy of the perspectives, opinions and nuances of other civilisations," he added.
It is yet unknown if the Nigerian military ruler General Sani Abacha and the country's establishment regard human rights as universal.
Now for the news. Today, Nigerian papers said DAAR will launch its African Independent Television (AIT) International on "one of the newest" Intelsat satellites next Monday, November 3. That miracle satellite covers "the African continent, Europe, the Caribbean, the United States and Asia" -- in other words, more or less the whole world. [And I thought that covering the whole globe from geostationary orbit would require at least three satellites. Silly me!]
AIT will initially broadcast in English but later expand its audience by introducing French, Spanish, Portuguese, Swahili and Hausa language programs, Dokpesi said. [Seeing/hearing is believing.]
I wrote that Euronews "will also keep offering various language versions (which of course makes the appearance of on-screen presenters impossible.)" D L Thornton comments:
Good. I for one have never understood why news presenters should be paid so much (of my money be it from subs, licenses or ad revenue) just to look pretty and contribute *nothing* to my comprehension of the news. I would much rather see pictures of something interesting than a talking head. All they need to do now is to run interviews with people as voice-overs and show some relevant visual information at the same time -- *not* the face of the person interviewed.
True, of course. Nonetheless I think this is one of the reasons why Euronews hasn't become a success so far, and probably never will. I don't need talking heads on TV but most Europeans do, otherwise they probably think there's something wrong with their TV. The way news are presented on TV has evolved over some 50 years or more, and Euronews won't change that within the next ten or 20 years, I'm afraid.
Phase 3D was "bumped" from Ariane flight 502 earlier this summer, due to problems getting the satellite ready for new requirements from Arianespace. AMSAT still hopes to go on a later Ariane flight. [Why can't some folks just keep their web pages updated? Growl...] Details at http://www.amsat.org/
Talking about keeping web pages up to date: Sat-ND's Big List of Geostationary Satellites has [finally] been updated today but is only available at http://www.lynet.de/~pck/positions/ owing to technical problems.
Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
To unsubscribe, send Email to Majordomo@tags1.dn.net (not to me, please, and not to any other address) and include the line
unsubscribe sat-nd xxxxx
in the body of your message. xxxxx stands for your email address. Or have a look at