Sat-ND, 9.12.1997 It's a secret
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What's happened so far
Max closed down
Oh yeah, thanks, I had a nice holiday! In fact, I just returned from Gran Canaria where I spent one week just doing nothing at all.
Here are some news (ha ha! Mostly press releases) of the past few days you may or may not find interesting. As I'm more or less fed up with writing this so-called newsletter, there'll be more news as soon as I feel like it.
Galaxy VIII-i was successfully launched by International Launch Services on an Atlas IIAS rocket today.
The satellite, an HS 601 HP spacecraft built by Hughes Space and Communications Co., contains 32 Ku-band transponders providing high-power transmissions coverage of Latin America. It will be co-located at 95 degrees West Longitude with the Galaxy III-R satellite.
The new satellite is a body-stabilised Hughes HS 601HP model. Generating 9.9 kilowatts, Galaxy VIII-i is one of the most powerful commercial spacecraft ever launched. It features highly efficient GaAs solar arrays as well as Hughes Electronics' Xenon Ion Propulsion System (XIPS.)
Galaxy VIII-i the second HS 601HP in PanAmSat's fleet of 17 satellites, joining PAS-5 that was launched in August. Galaxy VIII-i is PanAmSat's 17th satellite and its sixth serving Latin America.
The 3,560-kilogram satellite will over the next 15 years transmit more than 200 digital television and music channels for reception by Galaxy Latin America's direct-to-home (DTH) television service called DirecTV.
In early 1996, Galaxy Latin America launched the first digital DTH service for Latin America over the Galaxy III-R satellite. Today, Galaxy Latin America delivers more than 4,000 hours of programming daily to service subscribers in 11 countries. Galaxy VIII-i will expand Galaxy Latin America's total transmission capacity considerably.
On December 2, Arianespace successfully launched the telecommunications satellite JCSAT-5 for the Japanese company Japan Satellite Systems Inc., and the scientific satellite Equator-S, built by the Max Planck Institute of Germany.
Flight 103 was carried out by an Ariane 44P, the version of the European launcher with four strap-on solid-propellant boosters. It used the 73rd Ariane 4 launcher out of the 116 ordered to date from the European space industry. Flight 103 is the 11th Ariane launch this year (ten Ariane 4 and one Ariane 5).
JCSAT-5 was designed and built for the Japanese company Japan Satellite Systems Inc. (JSAT) by the U.S. firm Hughes Space & Communications in El Segundo, Calif. Weighing 2,982 kg at launch, it is equipped with 32 Ku-band transponders. Positioned at 150 degrees east, over New Guinea, it will route telecommunications services for JSAT to Japan, the Asia-Pacific region and the Hawaiian archipelago.
The Equator-S satellite was built by the Max Planck Institute in Garching, Germany. Weighing 230 kg at launch, it will measure the impact and effects of solar wind on terrestrial electromagnetic fields. Positioned in a 500 -- 63,700 km elliptical orbit, Equator-S will complete the ISTP (International Solar Terrestrial Physics) program.
The next launch, Flight 104, is scheduled for December 20. An Ariane 42L launch vehicle will be used to place into orbit the Intelsat 804 satellite, for the international satellite telecommunications organisation Intelsat. This will be Arianespace's fourth launch for Intelsat this year.
Following Flight 103, Arianespace now has 41 satellites on order to be launched.
Russia today launched a military satellite from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakstan and even disclosed what it is going to be used for.
The Kosmos satellite launched aboard a Tsiklon rocket is more or less a spy satellite, according to the Strategic Missile Forces. The official version is that it will monitor international arms agreements from an orbit 160 to 380 kilometres above the Earth.
The way this task is performed can hardly be called state-of-the-art technology: in addition to its cameras, the 6.6-tonnes satellite has two landing capsules that will be used to send the exposed films back to Earth. However, most Russian reconnaissance satellites do that.
Russia's military plans to launch another Kosmos satellite aboard a Soyuz-U booster rocket within the next few days from its Plesetsk launch site.
Russian space officials said they will put the U.S. Early Bird satellite into orbit on Dec. 24, 16:22 local time, from the Svobodny cosmodrome in Siberia a year after the originally planned launch date.
Early Bird is a remote sensing satellite, owned by Earthwatch Inc. of Boulder, USA. It should have been launched at the end of 1996 from Russia's Far Eastern rocket base Svobodny -- but it wasn't (Sat-ND, 14.3.97.) The launch was then re-scheduled for the second half of June 1997, but even that didn't work out. According to the director of the research space centre, Sergei Zinchenko, the American satellite had not yet been assembled.
This time, everything is ready for the start. The Start-1 rocket, a converted intercontinental ballistic missile, and the satellite are already at the launching pad while Russian and American specialists were finishing last-minute preparations, reported Itar-Tass.
The launch is expected to cost some US$7 million, but Earthwatch has to pay a forfeit as it has caused the launch delays.
The Start-1 will blast off from a mobile launch unit as the silos at Svobodny, once designed to launch rockets that would blast the Western World (or any other part of the world for that matter) into smithereens, so far have not been prepared for commercial rocket launches.
Two more Iridium satellites were successfully launched yesterday on a Chinese Chang Zheng (Long March) 2C/SD rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in China. The launch brings the total number of orbiting Iridium satellites to 41, marking Iridium LLC's eighth launch in eight months.
The Long March 2C/SD rocket lifted off the launch pad at 02:16:49 a.m. EST. Satellite separation occurred approximately fifty minutes after lift-off. The two satellites will be manoeuvred into their respective positions to become part of the operational constellation.
With this launch, Iridium satellites have now been launched by all three of Iridium system launch service providers: Delta II of Boeing, Proton of Khrunichev, and Long March 2C/SD of China Great Wall Industry Corporation.
"With this launch in China, we've set a new record by deploying 41 satellites in eight months from three countries," said Motorola Chief Executive Officer Christopher Galvin. "We congratulate China Great Wall for their successful launch, which has played an important role in making this achievement possible."
Arianespace ordered an additional 20 Ariane 4 launchers from the European space industry to enhance its launch services and ensure service continuity in the booming satellite launch market.
Worth an estimated US$2 billion, this order will enable Arianespace to satisfy launch demand during the period 2000-2002, based on the concurrent operation of the Ariane 4 and Ariane 5 launch systems.
To date, European industry has booked orders for a total of 160 launch vehicles in this family: 11 Ariane 1, 17 Ariane 2 and 3 116 Ariane 4, 16 Ariane 5. Arianespace's commitment to European industry will continue in 1998, with a further Ariane 5 order, and financing arrangements to cover enhanced production and launch rates.
"The European space industry has once again demonstrated its ability to join forces and rise to the challenge of ever-greater competitiveness and quality," emphasised Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Made Luton. "This solidarity provides the indispensable support needed to ensure the operational continuity of Ariane 4 and Ariane 5 -- one of the key factors in our success."
Originally, Ariane 4 was to be phased out by 2000. Arianespace obviously has given up that plan soon after the failure of the first Ariane 5 rocket, especially as Ariane 4 (despite several failures in the early years of operation) has turned out to be a very reliable launch system.
This is the most insignificant and gratuitous launch ever mentioned in Sat-ND. Let's keep it short.
The Astra 1G satellite of Luxembourg-based Société Européenne des Satellites (SES) was unfortunately launched with a Russian Proton 1-D-e rocket from the Cosmodrome of Baikonur (Kazakhstan) on December 3.
Astra 1G is the seventh SES satellite to be co-located at the orbital position of 19.2° East. It's yet another HS601 HP type spacecraft. It carries up to 32 active transponders (for the first five years, 28 thereafter,) SES said in a press release. [So what happens to the other four transponders, are they expelled from the satellite 'thereafter'?]
What this bird does? Earn money for SES. What did you expect? [Don't say I'm a cynic, sceptic or whatever: it's not a coincidence that you, the Sat-ND readers, voted Astra the most hated satellite (system.)]
Shinawatra Satellite vice president Nongluck Pinainitisart said the company will not launch Thaicom 4 before 2000.
There's still unused capacity on Thaicom 3, so there would be no commercial point in launching the new bird on schedule early next year. Shinawatra Corp subsidiary is currently looking for foreign customers in India and Indochina, Nongluck told the Bangkok post.
There is still hope, though. University of Colorado, Boulder, scientists said the Earth is bombarded by extremely high-energy electrons not only from the sun (we knew that already, did we) but also from Jupiter.
At the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, they pointed out that these "killer electrons" can wreak havoc with spacecraft and satellites. Jupiter's huge magnetic field bombards Earth with electrons at times when the sun is relatively quiet. And Jupiter's electrons have even more energy than what the sun delivers as high-energy electrons.
At the meeting, scientists said they had a new tool that their accuracy in predicting solar storms. It's an instrument called a coronograph aboard the SOHO spacecraft, jointly operated by NASA and the European Space Agency. The coronograph blots out the bright light of the sun allowing scientists to focus on the sun's dimmer corona.
It so far enabled them to detect nine giant solar eruptions between December 1996 and June 1997 all of which caused magnetic storms on Earth. One of them zapped Telstar 401. The other eight events didn't quite have the same quality, though they knocked off just a few transponders of the Tempo satellite.
As I said, there's still hope. The sun's activity follows an eleven-year cycle that will reach its next peak in 2000 or 2001. This will put the satellites currently in orbit to the test -- most of them weren't there in 1990 during the last peak. Satellite operators may be in for quite some exciting years.
Matra Marconi Space and Digimed, a fully-owned unit of the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CYTA), have signed an agreement for the creation of the Euro African Satellite Telecommunication (E.A.S.T) limited Company in the U.K.
E.A.S.T. is a geostationary communications satellite system for Europe, Africa and the Middle East that will provide mobile and fixed telephony and data services in remote regions. The total cost of the programme is estimated at US$800 million.
Matra Hautes Technologies, a unit of the Lagardere group of France, and Nera of Norway have joined the project as members of the industrial team. And that's all I have so far. There's not much to interpret here except maybe the involvement of the CYTA, which probably has some nice geostationary satellite slots to throw in.
Hughes Information Systems (HIS), a unit of Hughes Aircraft Company, has been selected as the prime contractor for the U.S. military's Global Broadcast Service (GBS) contract, a six-year project that will accelerate and customise the delivery via satellite of video, imagery and data to U.S. forces.
The GBS will be using a very wide bandwidth for the rapid broadcast of high-volume military information, including maps, intelligence data, weather reports and air tasking orders. The system will enable information to be delivered in seconds, compared to minutes or hours needed in the past, using a common desktop computer interface. In addition, users will be able to create profiles to customise the data they need.
Three Ultra-High Frequency Follow-on (UFO) satellites, being developed and launched for the U.S. Navy by Hughes Space and Communications Company, will carry the GBS capability. GBS enables U.S. troops around the world [what are they doing all around the world, by the way, shouldn't they stay at home?] to receive data at rates of more than 23 Mbps via satellite. The first GBS satellite is scheduled for launch in 1998.
And here's one for all you Billy-bashers out there: Hughes has worked closely with Microsoft, according to its press release, as Microsoft "continues the development of its Windows NT version 5.0 and its components."
It seems as though the uncontrolled expansion and multiplication of business and news channels all over the world may come to a grinding halt sooner rather than later. Rumour has it that European Business News (EBN) and Asian Business News (ABN) will soon be taken over by CNBC.
No, that's not news, that's what I wrote back in August. Nonetheless, it's true in a way: many of Dow Jones and NBC's loss-making news and business channels will be combined under the CNBC brand name. Dow Jones (operator of ABN and EBN) and NBC have entered into what they called "a global business television and Internet alliance that will enhance the way business information is provided to audiences around the world."
In the U.S., CNBC and Dow Jones will team to provide business news programming on CNBC while internationally NBC and Dow Jones will together launch signature business information channels under the CNBC banner in Asia and Europe by merging their existing television services into regional services. And on the Internet, the two companies will develop a series of interactive business news and information initiatives.
In Asia, Dow Jones and NBC will merge CNBC Asia and Asia Business News (ABN) into a new service to be branded CNBC, and to be designated as "a service of NBC and Dow Jones." The new service will be available in early 1998, and is expected to reach nearly 9 million households throughout Asia on a full-time basis and over 30 million on a part-time basis. Additionally, the service will be "sub-branded" as Asia Business News during an initial transition period to ensure a smooth changeover for viewers and customers. Ownership and governance of the service will be shared equally by NBC and Dow Jones.
In Europe, NBC and Dow Jones will merge European Business News (EBN) and CNBC Europe to form the newly branded "CNBC: A Service of NBC and Dow Jones." The new service will be available in nearly 15 million homes on a full-time basis and 50 million on a part-time basis throughout Europe beginning in early 1998.
Microsoft will join Dow Jones and NBC on the Internet: the MSNBC Web site (owned jointly by NBC and Microsoft) will include active participation by The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition and CNBC. The "Commerce" section of MSNBC will be rebranded using the CNBC and The Wall Street Journal brand names. Dow Jones will take an ownership interest in MSNBC Business Video in the United States, now owned jointly by NBC and Microsoft. Additionally, NBC, Microsoft and Dow Jones will co-own interactive rights to develop CNBC video for media other than television.
On Decmber 1, DirecTV Japan launched 64 channels of digital video and audio instead of the 90 channels previously announced.
DirecTV Japan is the third DirecTV service available world-wide. So far, DirecTV, a unit of Hughes Electronics Corp. runs DirecTV in the U.S. and Galaxy Latin America (GLA), which offers DirecTV to Latin America and the Caribbean.
Next spring, DirecTV Japan is scheduled to add about 26 additional channels offering an eclectic programming mix, including CNBC, a leading business and financial news channel; Country Music Television; MCM, playing European [or rather: French] musical hits 24 hours a day; sporting events; and pay-per-view movies and special event shows.
The all-digital programming is broadcast via Superbird C; an HS 601 based satellite built by Hughes Space and Communications Co. That was launched last July.
DirecTV Japan is a partnership among DirecTV International Inc., a unit of Hughes Electronics; Culture Convenience Club Co. Ltd.; Matsushita Electric Co. Ltd.; Tokuma Shoten Co. Ltd.; Mitsubishi Corp.; Mitsubishi Electric Co. Ltd.; Space Communications Corp.; and Dai Nippon Printing Co. Ltd.
It's a bit strange. While I was on "holiday," I received lots of contributions from readers from the southern hemisphere, which by the way is definitely the place where I'd like to be right now because winter as I know it from my place is just defying all basic human rights. Anyway, thank you very much for your contributions, Martyn and Chris!
The New Zealand Minister of Communications Maurice Williamson and the Minister of Maori Affairs Tau Henare, announced that following extensive consultation with Maori, the Government has decided to support the further development of Maori television services aimed at promoting the Maori language.
The Crown has given assurances to the Courts to promote the Maori language through television broadcasting. These assurances were accepted by the Courts as a condition for permitting the transfer of broadcasting assets to Television New Zealand after it was set up as a State Owned Enterprise. The Courts held that the transfer, without specific protection for Maori language, would be in breach of the Crown's obligation under Section 9 of the State-Owned Enterprises Act 1986.
"Over the next few months, the Government will be considering how best to give effect to its Maori television policy," the Ministers said. "A key issue to resolve will be what arrangements are necessary in order to ensure commitment to Maori language programming, acceptability to Maori generally and accountability for the expenditure of public funds.
Television New Zealand has decided to sell 80 per cent of its natural history unit to 20th-Century Fox, a subsidiary of the Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp, Radio New Zealand reported last Wednesday.
TVNZ will retain a 20 per cent shareholding with guaranteed access to future productions by the unit, but the minority opposition Alliance Party condemned the decision. Its spokesperson on broadcasting, Pam Corkery, described the sale as "inexplicable and outrageous", saying New Zealanders had not been consulted. A "national treasure" had been sold to a company which "did not understand its cultural importance", she said The channel's management rejected the criticism. It said the partnership was "the only way to ensure survival", as it would mean the expansion of programme production and ensure the security and future growth of the unit.
Max Entertainment Limited has ceased to broadcast its New Zealand music channel on December 3.
The Managing Director of Max Entertainment Limited, Geoff Thorpe, who pioneered the channel with Kevin Black four years ago, says even with the best endeavours of a dedicated and talented staff, to survive and grow in what is becoming an increasingly fragmented television market, would take more capital investment on an ongoing basis than Max could maintain.
"With digitalisation, satellite delivery systems and competitive programming elements, the required levels of reinvestment would soon become impossible for Max to afford," said Mr Thorpe.
"As a businessman, the cold hard reality is that the transmission assets are where the value lies, even though the Max Television staff have been doing all we asked of them and more, in producing programmes, attracting viewers, and making profits.
"Max, including the large numbers of viewers who have enjoyed the New Zealand produced music programmes on the channel, have to thank the support and efforts of so many skilled performers and artists who gave of their talents with passion, for sometimes little or no remuneration. I salute you and Max thanks you," said Kevin Black.
Aztel Holdings Ltd, which owns the transmission assets, including the frequencies used to broadcast Max, has sold them to Broadcast Communications Ltd for an undisclosed sum.
Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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