Sat-ND, 28.11.1997 Moose au chocolat
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Asian satellite reference
Japan's sixth H-2 rocket successfully launched NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite and a docking experiment. (In case you're counting: the fifth H-2 mission has been postponed until next year.) It was the first H-2 launch with a foreign satellite on board.
The launch was delayed after an irregularity in engine data had been detected. The two-stage rocket finally blasted off 47 minutes later than scheduled from Tanegashima Space Centre and 14 minutes later released TRMM into orbit. The U.S. satellite, equipped with a Japanese precipitation radar system, is designed to measure rainfall in the Earth's tropical regions from space. Owing to its heavy weight and its low orbit (350 kilometres,) it has a design life of just three years.
According to the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA,) ground stations confirmed that TRMM deployed solar panels and started solar acquisition 17 minutes after the launch.
There's a bit more confusion about the docking experiment officially dubbed Engineering Test Satellite VII (ETS-VII.) Its name was also given as Kiku 7, but as if that wasn't enough to confuse anybody, it actually comprises two satellites by the names of "Orihime" and "Hikoboshi."
These are stars in the Chinese Star Festival legend, says one news agency; they're fairy tale star lovers of Japan's "Tanabata" Star Festival, says another. Anyway, at an altitude of some 550 km above Earth they will perform a, um... er... some docking manoeuvre. [Click, click, click.]
"The ETS-VII satellite is scheduled to conduct rendezvous docking experiments and robot arm experiments. The rendezvous docking technology is essential for food and fuels supply to a space station. In the coming space era, space robots will also be indispensable to repair external facilities on the station," NASDA president Isao Uchida said in a statement.
A formal agreement between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian Space Agency confirms that a Russian Proton launcher will lift ESA's Integral satellite into space in 2001.
In return, Russian astronomers will have about a quarter of the observing time on Integral, as it examines gamma-ray sources in the Universe. Gamma-ray astronomy offers special insights into some of the most violent events in the Universe, including gamma-ray bursts and activity close to black holes.
In April 2001, the four-stage Proton rocket will put Integral's mass of nearly 4 tonnes into a very high orbit. Orbiting the Earth every 48 hours, never approaching closer than 46,000 kilometres, Integral will avoid the Earth's radiation belts and will be capable of observing the universe for 24 hours a day.
ESA said in a statement that NASA will take part in the mission too, with ground stations in its Deep Space Network helping to maintain 24-hour operation. [Wasn't that network designed to scan the skies for signals from intelligent life forms in outer space? Well, at least they now have a sensible use for that.]
As reported yesterday, the Canadian federal government has allowed Telesat Canada to launch two new satellites in 2000. Telesat, Canada's satellite communications company, welcomed the decision.
It said in a statement that the new Anik-F satellites, which will carry broadcasting, telecommunications and wireless communications services, will replace today's Anik E satellites when they reach the end of their service lives.
"This is a very important announcement for all Canadians, because it ensures Canada will enter the 21st century with the world's most powerful and cost-effective satellite communications system," said Larry Boisvert, Telesat's president and CEO.
By supporting its plans to build and launch the Anik F satellites, the federal government ensures a seamless transition of service between the Anik Es and the new satellites, Telesat said. Like the Anik Es, the Anik F satellites will play a critical role in Canada's communications infrastructure.
Last January, Russia put two monkeys in a capsule called Bion-11 and sent them on a two-week space flight. Both returned unharmed. One of them, called Multik, however didn't survive the treatment by specialists of the Russian "Institute for Medical and Biological Problems."
He died when they tried to take samples of muscle and bone cells, whereas his co-cosmonaut Lapik survived the operation (Sat-ND, 9.1.97.) The sudden death of Multik was widely reported, and NASA (which participates in the Bion programme) soon let it be known that it had "determined that this risk is unacceptable and is therefore discontinuing its participation in the primate experiments on Bion 12."
Yevgeny Ilyin, Deputy Director of the "Institute for Medical and Biological Problems," was upset: "This accident and the 'greens' movement influenced NASA, and it suggested that monkeys be replaced by rats" (Sat-ND, 23.4.97.)
Unfortunately, this is exactly what is going to happen. According to Itar-Tass, the Russian Space Agency and NASA will soon sign an agreement about the Bion-12 mission now with rats and mice on board. Those animals have a big advantage over monkeys: they can usually be killed and disposed of quietly without any protest from the public.
However, Bion-12 will be delayed by a few years it will not be launched in 1998 as originally planned but in summer 2000. Itar-Tass said that although it has not been decided how many animals will be put into space, the satellite is likely to carry 35-40 rats and over 40 mice.
The rats and mice will be used to study the zero gravity effect on live organisms, Yevgeny Ilyin was quoted as saying. So why don't they study the zero gravity effect on, say, Yevgeny Ilyin and the rest of the "Institute for Medical and Biological Problems"? Shoot 'em up!
Britain's ITN has, as expected, taken control of the ailing all-news channel Euronews (sat-ND, 7.10.97.) It's the first time ITN, which so far supplied news shows to Britain's commercial stations, will operate a TV channel on their own.
"This is a significant step for ITN. In a sense, we're taking our destiny into our own hands," ITN chief executive Stewart Purvis was quoted as saying. ITN was the only bidder interested in Alcatel Alsthom's 49-percent stake in Euronews, a loss-making multi-lingual news channel available to viewers in Europe and parts of the Middle East.
The balance will stay with European public broadcasters including France Television, RAI of Italy, RTVE of Spain and SSR of Switzerland. They will, according to ITN, keep out of the day-to-day business but be consulted on "major issues." [How generous.]
ITN plans to improve the channel's quality, devote more time to news segments, and increase Euronews' distribution in Europe and elsewhere. It aims for the channel to break even in two years' time, hoping for increased revenues from programme licences and pan-European advertising [which, as many other channels have impressively demonstrated in the past, does not work at all.]
ITN will become a competitor to well-known news channels such as Sky News, BBC World, and CNN which is a bit delicate as Euronews and CNN share some news gathering operations. "To a certain extent, we're competing with CNN, but in quite a gentlemanly way," ITN's Purvis said.
The Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC) has approved Shaw Communications' acquisition of a 20 percent interest in Telelatino Network, a Canadian cable service specialising in Italian and Spanish programming.
"We're delighted to include Telelatino in our portfolio of programming interests," said John Cassaday, President of Shaw Media. "The service has done well in establishing its presence in key markets and we look forward to working with our new partners to expand Telelatino's customer base across the country."
Telelatino Television Network is a privately-held company offering Canadians a variety of domestic and international programming in Italian, Spanish and English. The service is available to over three million cable households and is also distributed via Direct-to-Home satellite.
Shaw Communications Inc. is a diversified Canadian communications company whose core business is providing cable television services to approximately 1.5 million customers, representing about 20 percent of the Canadian market.
Norsat International's Canadian consumer products division had been offering U.S. DTH systems as part of its product line. This is illegal, ruled the Federal Court of Canada last June (Sat-ND, 10.7.97.) The Federal Court of Appeal upheld the ruling.
It dismissed Norsat's appeal, confirming that importing and selling U.S. Direct Broadcast Satellite ("DBS") receiving systems in Canada contravenes the country's Radiocommunication Act.
"Numerous options remain open to us at this point," said Norsat's President and Chief Executive Officer, Bruce Chapman. "We are weighing all of the alternatives and, depending on how the situation evolves, expect to have decided on a course of action within the next few days."
NII Norsat International Inc. is a diversified technology company specialising in the design and manufacture of satellite and cable communications equipment for commercial applications, which it sells through its offices in Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and China, and through a global network of more than 35 distributors.
Ironically, Norsat's Aurora unit also distributes reception equipment for the Canadian DTH-system StarChoice [that is, if that project is still alive.] According to earlier press releases, StarChoice should by now offer customers more than 100 channels of quality programming. Star Choice Television Network Incorporated is a wholly-owned subsidiary of New Brunswick-based Star Choice Communications Inc. [Potatoes from New Brunswick?]
The 1998 football [soccer] World Cup to take place next June in France will attract TV viewers all around the globe, but those who live in the vicinity of a new stadium built near Paris may not be able to receive anything at all.
The new stadium's facilities turned out to interfere with terrestrial TV broadcasts, as technical checks have now confirmed. Reportedly, some 1,000 homes located within a few hundred metres a the Stade de France are affected.
Some residents who fear the interference cannot be corrected in time have meanwhile begun buying satellite dishes. As the digital craze is rather advanced in France, they should consider buying a set-top box as well.
Mark Long told me that his "MLESat has just introduced a new satellite reference for the Asia/Pacific region called the Asia/Pacific Satellites On Disk Library."
A demo version of this new product is available at MLEsat's web site. "MLESat provides a wealth of educational materials on satellite TV and related technologies, including a variety of on-line tutorials and references for the free personal use of web site visitors. MLESat also publishes computer software, satellite reference books, educational videotapes, and home study correspondence courses as well as conducts training seminars for corporations and organizations in the Asia/Pacific region."
Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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