Sat-ND, 04.11.1997 Working in a coalmine
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All-Boeing GPS launch
One more Eutelsat W and a package of crisps
Fractal antenna revolution for satellite reception?
Where's that satellite?
Rockwell buys Hughes-Avicom
Electronic gear ratio
Read my lips
Where's the pork?
The twenty-eighth and final satellite of the U.S. Air Force's Navstar Global Positioning System (GPS) Block IIA program was to be launched later today.
It will be the first all-Boeing launch . The GPS satellite, manufactured by Boeing, will be carried on a Delta-II rocket that meanwhile also carries the Boeing name. Boeing assumed responsibility for the GPS program in December 1996 with the acquisition of the aerospace and defence businesses of Rockwell International; the Company acquired the Delta launch vehicle business upon its merger with McDonnell Douglas in August of this year.
GPS comprises 24 active satellites, a ground control system, and thousands of terminals that provide civilian and military users in the air, at sea, and on the ground their precise position on the Earth's surface. (A higher resolution currently is available to the U.S. military only.)
Boeing is already working on the preliminary phases of its next GPS contract. That contract, awarded in April 1996 and valued at US$1.3 billion, calls for up to 33 advanced Block IIF GPS satellites to be constructed through the year 2012. The first is scheduled to be launched in 2001.
Boeing involvement in GPS began in 1974 when it won government contracts to build 11 developmental satellites and thousands of receiver sets. Under a US$1.35 billion contract awarded in 1983, Boeing built a total of 40 Block I, II, and IIA satellites -- including a next generation prototype and 28 Block IIA production satellites.
This probably comes too late, but anyway: the launch will be transmitted on Galaxy IX, transponder 2 in the C-band, starting at 6:45 p.m. Eeastern Standard Time.
Eutelsat has ordered a fourth satellite of the W type from France's Aerospatiale. It will be built upon the company's Spacebus 3000 platform.
And that's about it, no more details were available. And why
should I write anything about those birds, to be launched from 1999,
when you can get the all the details at Eutelsat's marvellous [no,
I don't mean it] Web
Fractal Antenna Systems, Inc., in its own words a leader in antenna innovation, announced the development of two antennas patterned upon fractal designs.
Now, it would have been nice if their press statement explained what fractal means because I just don't feel like doing so. Although "fractal" has become a catchword in recent years, it nonetheless has a serious mathematical background.
One of the antennas is called the 'isotropic Fractenna,' allows small micro-satellites to get their signal across without regard to their orientation. It transmits a signal with virtually equal power in all directions. Tumbling, a problem for the tiny satellites, has no effect on the intensity of the communications link.
The other one is a 'fractalised helix' antenna. This one is directional, as common helix antennas are. The company claims that by utilising a fractal design, it had been able to shrink the size of the coil, now making it a practical alternative. Company spokesman Phil Salkind: "Imagine the foot and a half direct to satellite dishes replaced by a far lower profile antenna which fits inside the dimensions of a soda can."
[I wonder whether this has got something to do with the Contrawound Toroidal Helical Antenna (CTHA) featured in Sat-ND, 25.01.96. Probably not, as that was a small antenna used in the UHF range, however with surprising reception results. It may indicate, however, that helix antennas may be good for a surprise.]
Okay, here's even more plugging. Sigh. Somebody sent me an email that says "AcuSat is a new revolutionary software program for Broadcast TV, SNG, Ku trucks, Satellite Dish installers and DBS owners."
It computes Elevation/Azimuth look angles for geostationary satellites and comes with a database of 130 satellites and 500 world-wide cities. All of the databases are fully customisable. What sounds rather interesting is that the program (Windows 95 or NT 4.0 only) takes magnetic azimuth bearing into account, so there is no need to consult maps and input magnetic variations. "AcuSat automatically computes your site values and determines your elevation and compass bearings in an easy to read on-screen display."
More information and a demo version (download time some two
minutes) are available at
Please note that I checked neither the Web site nor the program.
Britain's digital terrestrial TV (DTT) broadcasters, including pay-TV BDB, agreed on an industry-wide decoder technology that will be built into DTT set-top boxes.
BDB, British Digital Broadcasting, is a venture between Carlton and Granada that plans to offer up to 15 terrestrially delivered digital pay-TV channels. (No BSkyB involved anymore they had to leave because of their digital satellite TV plans.)
John Egan, co-chairman of the Digital Multiplex Group (DMUX), was quoted as saying "This announcement puts us on track to bring multi-channel television to people's homes through existing aerials and televisions." DMUX comprises BDB, the British Broadcasting Corp., Channel Four and Channel Five.
Digital protagonists expect nearly one million terrestrial versions of the set-top boxes to be available by the time of DTT's launch, slated for the second half of 1998. BDB has meanwhile invited companies to put in their bids to make the first batches of set-top boxes. Just like those boxes needed to digital satellite pay-TV, they will be heavily subsidised.
On the satellite side, BSkyB and chipmaker SGS-Thomson Microelectronics NV said they would collaborate to help manufacturers start mass production of set-top boxes in the spring of 1998. Although decoders for terrestrial and satellite digital TV will probably use the same standards, satellite subscribers will reportedly need to buy a new dish to receive British Sky Broadcasting Plc's planned 200-channel digital satellite TV service.
Rockwell International plans to buy Hughes-Avicom International Inc., a leader in the inflight entertainment (IFE) industry that pioneers direct-broadcast satellite TV for commercial airlines.
Terms of the deal, which is expected to be completed later this year, were not disclosed. The new venture will become part of Rockwell's Collins business, which is one of the suppliers of aviation electronics for air transport, regional, business and military aircraft markets.
The primary market for those systems lies in long-haul flights, but additional demand is expected from smaller airplanes on short-haul flights. Economical IFE solutions in those areas will likely involve direct broadcast satellite TV.
Globalink, Inc., the world's leading provider of translation software, will provide software for the translation of E-mail, discussions, and other purposes on Intelsat's Operations Centre (IOC) ExtraNet.
The software creates greater efficiency in daily operational and collaborative communications among parties who are not comfortable communicating in English. The initial installation in the IOC will provide translations to and from English, Spanish and French, with further expansion to other language pairs Globalink provides.
[Now, I don't really want to comment that. Instead, I fed the above paragraphs from Glabalink's press release into a translation program not by Globalink, of course!, -- had it translated to German and then back to English. And this is the result:]
Globalink, Inc ., the leading //ernährer// to the Übersetzungssoftware of the world delivers software for the gear ratio from electronic post, discussions and other purposes on Intelsats Operationszentrum (IOC) ExtraNet. The software makes larger efficiency in daily of operational and Collaborative // Communications // under parties which are communicating not comfortably in English. The Anfangsinstallation in the IOC supplies gear ratios with further expansion English, Spanish and French in and of to other language pairs which Globalink delivers.
[The result would have been even worse if I had edited the German version to adhere to common language standards before re-translation.]
Intelsat also announced the appointment of Fairfax-based BTG, Inc. as an Authorised Systems Integrator. BTG heads up the integration of the Globalink software on Intelsat's ExtraNet. The implementation of the software is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
A key U.S. Senate panel approved a bill to restrict states and localities from imposing new taxes on Internet services for the time being.
The 14-5 vote came despite warnings the bill would impair Main Street businesses which would face increasing competition from electronic commerce.
The bill would impose a moratorium ending Jan. 1, 2004, on state and local taxes of Internet access and online services.
"This is a global economy we live in today. If we don't do it, then our competitors will," noted Committee Chairman John McCain.
[Anyway, let's hope the Internet becomes an international free-trade zone anyway. Would save me a lot of money.]
Jim Tresidder commented my helpless attempts to interpret a Lockheed press release yesterday.
"Lockheed has/had a stake in Iridium, I'm not aware of any involvement they had with Globalstar, which is a Loral venture, unless it had something to do with the merger of the old Loral Corp. with L-M about two years ago."
Okay, for your convenience, here's the original paragraph of the press release:
"The assets that will be transferred to GE are Access Graphics in Boulder, Colorado, a wholesale distributor of UNIX-based workstations and other computer hardware; Lockheed Martin Aerostructures in Middle River, Maryland,which primarily produces thrust reversers for GE and Pratt & Whitney engines used on large commercial aircraft; and Lockheed Martin's stake in Globalstar,a partnership of telecommunications service providers and equipment manufacturers formed to create a low-Earth-orbit voice and data satellite network."
For the whole story, point your browser at http://www.lmco.com/press-releases/latest.html
Satco-DX master mind Christian Lyngemark wrote in to say he hasn't seen anything of Nigeria's international TV channel AIT on Intelsat 601.
"I didn't find anything on the C or Ku band now at 00:00 CET, with maximum threshold. They can't be on the global or East hemi beam, unless they use very low power... :-("
Now isn't that a thrilling, new Sat-ND competition? Whosoever spots AIT first on satellite wins a free two-week holiday in Nigeria, including flight and accommodation (provided AIT pays for it because I certainly won't.)
Whosoever comes up with the most implausible explanation why AIT can't be seen on satellite wins a life-time free supply of Sat-ND. (That applies to the life-time of Sat-ND, not yours or mine.)
Yesterday, I asked my beloved readers whether any of them was aware of cats in space. Martyn Williams sent this important message:
"Cats? No. But you surely haven't forgotten "Pigs in space" from the Muppet Show?"
Watch out, Martyn! First mate Piggy's right behind you with a rolling pin in her hands... er, claws, paws, hoofs or whatever. Grunt!
http://huizen.dds.nl/~snitzel/pig1.htm (too bad, the image links don't are broken)
You may also want to subscribe to Martyn Strangepork's continuos email coverage of satellite news as they break. Much more serious than this so-called newsletter where folks have nothing better to do than discuss Swine Trek issues. How low can you go? If you ask yourself where the beef is, just visit http://www.TELE-satellite.com/ to find out.
Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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