Sat-ND, 30.10.1997 The Overload
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Ariane back on track
Killer program killed?
Bill Gates involved in distributing Internet porn!!!
LAW & ORDER
GPS users complain
Hormel gets "cordial hearing"
If I were the rocket launch poet of my favourite news agency, I would be writing something about a slender white and cream coloured rocket that gracefully climbed off its launch pad, leaving a fiery comet-like streak through the sky. Especially as it actually was the most beautiful rocket launch I've ever seen. Pure art. Congratulations!
In a press release titled "Ariane 5, a new success story begins," the European Space Agency (ESA) however put it this way:
"The European new-generation launcher Ariane 5 successfully lifted off today from the Guiana Space Centre, Europe's Space Port, in Kourou, French Guiana at 10:43 a.m; Kourou time (01:43 p.m. GMT, 02.43 p.m. CET) seven seconds after ignition of the Vulcain engine that powers the main stage.
"The two solid propellant boosters lifted the Ariane 5 launcher during the first part of the flight before separating from the main stage. The fairing that shrouds the payload during ascent phase was jettisoned three minutes after lift-off. Final injection was performed by the storable propellant stage, which ignited ten minutes after lift-off.
"The first flight data from the launcher are under analysis. In-depth analysis of flight data will be performed in the coming weeks at CNES, the French space agency to which ESA has delegated management of its Ariane 5 programme, and by European contractors working on the programme."
Flight 503 to carry commercial payload
As planned, the rocket put the test platforms MAQSAT B and H into orbit, where they are more or less useless as their task actually was to record Ariane's flight behaviour. That does not apply to the TEAMSAT payload which will carry out several technology experiments.
It was the second test flight of Ariane 5 after the failure of the maiden flight in June 1996. The third qualification flight, under ESA and CNES responsibility, is scheduled for spring 1998. Commercial Ariane 5 flights, managed by Arianespace, will begin with the fourth launch in the second half of 1998.
However, Arianespace director Jean-Marie Luton indicated the third test flight will carry a commercial satellite: "Des négociations sont en cours" (negotiations are under way.) He also said there were several customers for the new launcher but did not give any details. Following this flawless flight, Arianespace is expected to order between 40 and 60 Ariane 5 rockets from the European space industry in the coming months.
Ariane 5 is not only bigger and more powerful than its predecessor, but also simpler (that's why, in the end, it should be even more reliable than Ariane 4) and less expensive to build. It is designed to carry a 6,800-kg satellite, or tow of them with a total weight of 5,900 kg, into geostationary transfer orbit. Extension plans call for the ability to carry two 3,500-kg satellites at a time.
In addition, there may be plans to develop re-usable launchers. Arianespace deputy director Jäger was quoted as saying that "we're still dealing with disposable systems."
"Europe is once more in Space! This is another good example of what European co-operation can do. All those who have consistently believed in Ariane, today have witnessed the start of a new success story. But it's only the beginning, there is still a lot of work ahead of us before this launcher can be made available to users all over the world."
Antonio Rodotà, Director General of ESA
"We owed it to Europe and we have made it. The teams of experts, industry and all involved in this launch in Europe and French Guiana have done a great job. A further step towards qualification of the Ariane 5 launcher has thus been taken. Bravo!"
Gérard Brachet, Director General of CNES
"Ariane-5 est un grand succès pour l'Europe (...) et nous place en très bonne position face à la concurrence internationale. Mais il ne faut pas succomber à l'euphorie. Nous avons lancé un prototype. Il faut maintenant étudier le résulat de ce vol et attendre le vol 503. Soyons fiers mais restons sereins".
Alain bensoussan, ESA
"C'est un grand succès pour l'Europe spatiale. Ariane-5, ce n'est pas simplement une Ariane de plus. C'est une nouvelle fusée avec de nouveaux concepts qui vont ouvrir de nouveaux espaces pour l'Europe."
Claude Allègre, French minister for science and research (if I translated that correctly)
As the number of subscribers from the *.mil domain is still rising, here's something to keep you happy ;-) An article in yesterday's Washington Times (titled "Clinton's unilateral disarmament move") is not only highly critical of U.S. President Clinton's move to eliminate funding for the Army's kinetic anti-satellite program. It actually brings back to mind the good, old days of the cold war era.
Remember? "Ronnie's in the White House / He's a man and not a mouse." (Cliff Barnes and The Fear of Winning.) Keep in mind that the Washington Times claims it is the "conservative counterweight to its rival the Washington Post."
The article's author James T. Hackett states that "only one country in the world -- Russia -- has an operational antisatellite (ASAT) weapon" and moans that "Moscow is determined to prevent the United States from developing its own ASAT."
The article does not contain new facts; and one may doubt whether it contains any facts at all. For example, it's rather frivolous to call the Russian killer satellites "operational" -- they were last tested in 1982 and are pretty useless nowadays. (How often do I have to explain that simply blowing up a satellite is easy but will create a cloud of space debris that will endanger all other satellites, including Russian ones?)
Besides, it's well-known that the entire system of Russian military satellites can hardly be called operational. Since the decay of the Soviet Union (I sincerely hope Mr Hackett has heard of that,) the launch rate of Kosmos satellites has dropped dramatically simply owing to a lack of funding. At the end of 1996, Russia even was without any high-resolution spy satellite for quite a while.
Hence, even in the USA the cash-strapped Russians aren't good enough anymore to serve as the arch-enemy. Hackett: "More than 30 countries had satellites in space and satellite sensors capable of obtaining militarily useful information were improving rapidly." So what, shoot 'em all up? Whosoever seeks to dominate space domination seems a likely candidate to be striving for world domination, too.
It is, of course, true that many countries have developed and launched advanced reconnaissance satellites. So what could keep them from developing primitive killer satellites as well? Until now, only the fact that this kind of killing business was generally considered a taboo. Is it wise to change that? Not at all. Smaller countries don't operate extensive satellite fleets, so they just couldn't care less about space debris. They have quite an advantage there over the U.S. or Russia, both of which would have to use advanced, "surgical" ASAT techniques to save their other satellites from being hit by space junk. But even in the U.S., nobody claims Russia has that capability.
Mr Hackett complains that Clinton's veto was "crassly political," especially as it came "just days after receiving a letter from President Yeltsin renewing the old Soviet call for an ASAT ban." That letter was of course Russia's reaction to the Miracl experiment (even though it was a complete failure on both the technical and the PR level.)
By the way: the Washington Post runs an interesting web site, especially if you think that Mr Clinton is hugging his Chinese counterpart a bit too much these days. Nonetheless, the site seems to lack a search function.
Think of most items in Sat-ND as developing news. I guess that's what CNN would call it. So, here's a bunch of developing news from Nigeria.
There's a bit more on DAAR Communciations, which has kept me busy for two and a half years now (Sat-ND, 29.10.97.) No technical details, unfortunately, but it seems as if in addition to Nigeria's international TV channel AIT, there will also be a "round-the-clock musical satellite broadcast" to be launched simultaneously on November 3. Not a complete surprise as DAAR, AIT's owner, has so far been known only for operating a radio station with the interesting name of Ray Power FM in Lagos, Nigeria.
And what about the TV channel? "We shall present to the world a programme slant that seeks to integrate the world's positive values," the executive chairman of DAAR Communications, Raymond Dokpesi, told a press conference. "We shall offer Africa's past and present from an original perspective. It is only Africans themselves that can project the image of their continent," he said.
Three earth stations and two fly-away kits were acquired to broadcast events as they happen. Dokpesi added that his organisation would soon link up with the Internet.
However, there is a very interesting sentence in a report by PANA (which probably means Pan African News Agency.) Dokpesi, it said, "urged Africans to contribute to the project through subscription." Sure sounds like pay-TV to me.
PanAmSat Corporation said that Nigeria-based Minaj Group will use a 9 Megahertz digital channel on the PAS-3 C-band Africa beam to distribute the new Minaj Broadcast International (MBI) television network throughout Africa.
PAS-3's continent-wide African coverage for program distribution services will enable Minaj to reach Africa's potential television audience of approximately 38 million TV households.
The Minaj Group is a growing African-oriented information and entertainment media conglomerate with core businesses within the broadcast and publishing industries. Established in 1980, this family-owned company has offices in Lagos, London and New York.
Spice Entertainment Companies, Inc. announced that its Spice Direct unit has launched Spice Webcast, the first Internet broadcast of "cable-quality adult television programming," utilising Microsoft technology.
Roger Faherty, Chairman and CEO, noted that Spice Webcast is an important extension of Spice's reach on the Internet, where adult programming is already the most popular and profitable form of paid entertainment. (In fact, it's a major nuisance as newsgroups and personal email accounts are flooded with Terabytes of bullshit announcing yet another adult site. Of course, Spice does not do that as they're professionals who know that spamming does not create any traffic.)
Faherty added that Spice Webcast would be an innovative tool to cross promote the offerings of Spice Networks, the company's leading adult television networks, on cable and satellite systems across the USA. "This is an important step in developing an adult programming platform that will be very attractive to cable modem customers, who can now access our programming online seven days a week, 24 hours a day."
Now for the Bill Gates bit. Spice Webcast utilises Microsoft's Net Show video streaming software available on Microsoft browser products and available as a free plug-in application for other browsers, Spice said in a statement.
URL? No way! (No, it's not http://www.spice.com/ anyway.) Go along all you playboys and play with yourself! (Joe Jackson) But beware, JJ fans out there: Do not buy his latest album "Heaven and Hell." It's the most boring CD I've ever had the misfortune of listening to. Even worse than Night Music (and I loved Will Power!)
Scott Dance wrote in to tell me (and you) that there's another hot issue at WARC '97. Thanks!
The row is over a portion of the spectrum now available for the global positing satellite system GPS that, according to protesters (in this case: the United States GPS Industry Council, would be reallocated to primary Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) use. The plan, they say, was backed by Inmarsat interests in Europe and made without input from the international GPS/GNSS user community.
Well okay, if it's good for Europe, it can' be that wrong, so I suggest you'd stay as far away as possible from the Web site where that lament can be found.
More developing news. The lawsuit brought forward by Clay Whitehead against Luxembourg's satellite operators SES (Sat-ND, 29.10.97) is not likely to have any effects on the nomination of a new U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg.
News agencies on the contrary report that the newly appointed ambassador to Luxembourg, James C Hormel, and eight other ambassadorial nominees "received a cordial confirmation hearing" at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Acting Chairman Gordon Smith said he was not aware of any road blocks to the nominees. Chairman Jesse Helms was absent, however.
Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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