Sat-ND, 09.11.1997 Tell me why I don't like Mondays
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Sirius & Cakrawarta
BBC News 24
A U.S. Air Force Titan 4A, the most powerful U.S. unmanned rocket, has launched a spy satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) from Cape Canaveral last Friday.
It was the third Titan 4 launched in 23 days, the fourth and final launch this year. The recent two launches involved another U.S. spy satellite (Titan 4A) and the controversial Cassini/Huygens mission to Saturn (Titan 4B.)
U.S. Air Force officials refused to comment on the purpose of the rocket's mission but admitted the satellite aboard was designed, built and operated by the National Reconnaissance Office. Observers said the spacecraft launched was code-named Trumpet (Sat-ND, 1.11.97.)
Its most prominent feature is a an antenna of 100 metres in diameter (which, of course, will not unfold before the satellite reaches its destination orbit.) Weighing in at five to six tonnes, Trumpet is expected to monitor radio communications of Russia's nuclear submarine fleet.
Built by Lockheed Martin Astronautics, the Titan 4 is capable of lifting 21,510 kg into low-Earth orbit or more than 5,715 kg into geosynchronous orbit.
Lockheed Martin Astronautics is under contract to the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center to complete production of 40 Titan 4s with launches extending through 2003.
Iridium LLC has had another five satellites of its 66-satellite "wireless personal telecommunications network" launched yesterday, this time aboard a Delta-II from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, USA.
Satellite separation occurred approximately 85 minutes after lift-off. The five satellites will be manoeuvred into their respective positions, enabling significant testing of various aspects of the space system ranging from inter-satellite links to communications with subscriber equipment.
The launch brings the total number of orbiting Iridium satellites to thirty-nine, marking Iridium LLC's seventh launch in seven months. Boeing Delta II rockets have launched five of the seven Iridium missions over the past six months, placing 25 of the system's satellites into orbit.
What's more remarkable: it was the 250th launch of a Delta launch vehicle. "Since May we have launched nine Delta II rockets," said Jay Witzling, division director of Delta II and Titan fairing programs. "Our aggressive launch schedule has been in response to the needs of our customers. It is also preparing us to meet our goal next year of launching approximately 17 Deltas including our first Delta III."
Besides, the launch created a spectacular light show that could be seen from Southern California to Arizona. It was caused by light reflecting from propellant particles of the Delta II rocket.
[Apart from that, those recurring Iridium launches may be boring, but just wait until Teledesic starts putting its 288+ satellites up. I'll probably discontinue any kind of launch coverage then. Any suggestions for more interesting topics you'd like to see included?]
The launch of the "Scandinavian" Sirius 2 and the Indonesian Cakrawarta 1 aboard a European Ariane 44L rocket will take place a bit earlier than reported.
Ariane Flight 102 is now set for tomorrow, Monday, between 6.48 p.m. and 7.33 p.m. local time (2148 and 2233 UTC) from the European launch centre in Kourou, French Guiana. Equipped with four liquid strap-on boosters, the 44L is the most powerful model in the Ariane-4 series.
Sirius 2 weighs 2.9 tonnes and will provide television broadcast services to Scandinavia and Europe for Stockholm-based Nodiska Satellit AktieBolaget (NSAB). It was built by France's Aerospatiale. As mentioned before, "Through its GE Capital Satellites Europe subsidiary, GE Americom plans to expand service to all Europe via Sirius 2."
Cakrawarta 1 will provide digitally compressed television broadcasting to Indonesia's 17,000 islands and neighbouring southeast Asian countries for Jakarta's Indostar company. Prime contractor for the 1.4-tonne satellite was U.S. company Orbital Sciences.
As the launch was delayed anyway, Flight 103 will now definetely not take place before December.
Finally, a press release concerning the latest order of a Eutelsat W satellite has made it to Eutelsat's fabulous [I don't mean it] Web site. It goes like this.
"Eutelsat has signed a contract with [France's] Aerospatiale for a fourth satellite in the W series that will be operational at 36 degrees East in early 1999. Called W4, the satellite will enable Eutelsat to respond to market demands in Russia in particular. It will be one of a number of Eutelsat satellites at 36 degrees East, which include TDF2 which will start television broadcasts this month, and the new Sesat satellite which will go into service in early 1999."
The order brings the number of new Eutelsat satellites currently under construction to seven.
"Equipped with 32 transponders and including in particular a steerable beam, W4 will mainly be used with fixed beam coverage over Russia for analogue and digital television transmissions by a private Russian broadcaster with the agreement of the Russian government."
Well, of course. To foreign observers, Russian TV still looks like state-TV (or rather: Yeltsin-TV) whether commercial or not. As far as the position 36°E is concerned, we're talking about NTV. The company currently uses two Russian GALS satellites in addition two TDF2, which was recently bought by Eutelsat. (However, it seems that just one transponder of that bird is still fully operational.)
You can find out everything about satellite TV in Russia by visiting TELE-satellite International. There are bilingual mailing lists available such as sat-russ and sat-moscow, which you can subscribe to at no charge.
When I said that BBC News 24 would not be available on the Continent, I was not quite right.
Jos Nijs wrote in to tell me that "a few million continentals are lucky (?) this weekend: all cable subscribers in the Benelux can join BBC News 24 every night around 2-3am CET, starting Sunday November 9 at 1 a.m. CET on BBC1. Will their first topic be 'National anthem after BBC1 transmissions replaced by BBC News 24?'"
No idea. But it's true, BBC 1 (which will fill its night gap with BBC News 24) is available on cable networks in Belgium and The Netherlands I'm not so sure about Luxembourg, though.
To my knowledge, this is more or less the consequence of terrestrial spill-over. In other words: BBC TV can be received there using conventional antennas, and the cable feeds are most likely taken directly "off the air" and not from any satellite.
Anyway, I wouldn't stay up that late just to watch another news channel... Most people may have got something better to do than watching TV at that time of night.
Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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