Sat-ND, 23.12.1997 Pure Manure
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Bad weather in Kazakhstan the launch of Asiasat 3 aboard a Proton-K rocket had to be postponed. It was the first launch in the Proton's 30-year history that had to be put off because of strong winds.
In the Soviet Union, launches were ordered regardless of the weather and related risks. This is, of course, impossible with commercial launches (most satellite operators prefer a few days of delay to a destroyed satellite.)
Another attempt to get Asiasat 3 up will be made Wednesday, 2319 UTC (Thursday 2:19 a.m. local time.)
USELESS FACT: An early Pope decreed that baby rabbits were fish, and so could be eaten on Fridays and during Lent. (Geoff Toon)
It's almost the same with every Ariane 4 launch: there's one delay ot two, but after there will be a textbook launch. Same applies to Intelsat 804 that was launched last Monday (UTC) aboard an Ariane 44L, the one with two strap-on liquid fuel boosters. [My favourite news agency said 'liquid boosters' were used. Oh well.]
The first attempt to launch the rocket was scrubbed because of several technical problems that appeared during the countdown.
Intelsat 804 separated from the rocket twenty minutes after launch and was acquired successfully by the tracking, telemetry, command and monitoring network in Perth, Australia, approximately 40 minutes after lift-off.
Deployed at 64° E, Intelsat 804 is the 27th satellite in the Intelsat global fleet and also the sixth serving the Indian Ocean Region. The satellite has 38 C-band and 6 Ku-band transponders on board and will provide voice/data and video services to customers throughout Europe, Asia and Africa. Its high power C-band coverage allows reception through antennas as small as 1.8 meters, Intelsat said in a press release.
Intelsat 804 is expected to commence commercial service beginning in February 1998, upon completion of orbital manoeuvres and in-orbit testing. The insured value of Intelsat 804 -- launch, satellite and insurance -- was US$172 million.
It was the 12th and final Ariane rocket launch in 1997 -- a record for Europe's space programme. Arianespace president Jean-Marie Luton announced that the European launch service provider would attempt to increase the launch frequency even further: "We have launched seven times in five months. This means we are on the path to 15 launches a year," he was quoted as saying.
USELESS FACT: 13 percent of Frenchmen between 18 and 25 years of age think the the sun revolves around the Earth. The number is even 33 percent in the 30 -45 age range. (Stephane Mabille)
Orbital Sciences Corporation announced today that it is prepared to launch the next eight low-Earth orbit communications satellites for its affiliate, Orbcomm Global, L.P. (Orbcomm), Wednesday afternoon.
The launch aboard the company's Pegasus XL rocket is scheduled to take place at approximately 2:00 p.m. (EST) with a launch window that extends from about 1:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. (EST). Following the launch, Orbital expects that it will take at least another 24 hours before reliable data can be assembled on the basic status and health of each of the new satellites.
Orbcomm Global, L.P. is a partnership between Orbital, which owns 50 percent of the company, and Teleglobe Inc. of Canada and TRI Inc. of Malaysia. The company claims to be the world's first mobile satellite services provider offering two-way data and messaging communications globally through a network of international service licensees, covering over 90 countries, and in North America through more than 35 value-added resellers and direct sales channels. It is fully licensed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and has also been granted spectrum world-wide by the International Telecommunications Union.
USELESS FACT: There's a town in England called Ware. Where's Ware?? (Geoff Toon)
Nasa has plans for giant balloons that will replace scientific low-Earth orbit satellites at least partially. Their main advantage: letting them float is much cheaper than even the cheapest conventional satellite launch, which happens to be offered by Orbital on their Pegasus XL [still sounds like a... you know what.]
However, what Nasa has in mind sounds like a condom brand, too: it's called the "Ultra Long Duration" Balloon Project. The balloon, 100 metres in diameter, can lift 1,500 kg of equipment to an altitude of 35 kilometres. [The Pegasus XL can launch some 250 kg.] There's only one disadvantage: unlike a satellite, the balloon will stay aloft just three months and during that time circle the Earth only five times.
But Earth imaging is not what the Ultra Long Duration Balloon was created for; it will be used for astronomical projects. To get a clear and unobstructed view of the universe, the equipment has to be lifted above the atmosphere. Once the balloon gets close to the end of its life, the observation instruments will be dropped and safely return to Earth on a parachute. Another signal will deflate the balloon, which will then come down separately.
How does it work exactly? The balloon, made of combination of a high-tech fabric and an aluminized polymer material, will be partially inflated with Helium just enough to make it ascend. Possible launch sites are Australia or New Zealand, the preferred launch months are January and June. At that time, high-altitude winds are at their peak.
As the balloon gets higher, it will automatically expand owing to the decreasing atmospheric pressure it is exposed to. Once it has arrived in "orbit," altitude control will not only be performed by gas venting, as known from conventional balloons, but also utilise the heat of the sun.
The balloon would stay over the Southern Hemisphere, which also means it would spend most of the time over oceans. The scientific data may be relayed to Nasa satellites, but there are also plans to utilise cellular phone technology and those trendy, new commercial communications satellites.
A first test flight, telling Nasa scientists how far the balloon can go up before it pops, is due next summer. The first real mission is expected in 2000.
USELESS FACT: In Finland there's a place called Ii (pronounced as the ee in fEEd.) (Jukka Tapio Hynninen)
by Dr Sarmaz
Rupert Murdoch's Japan Sky Broadcasting Corp. and PerfecTV have confirmed they were considering a merger if their digital satellite TV operations in Japan (Sat-ND, 21.12.97.)
A JSkyB spokesman said details of a merger with PerfecTV had yet to be decided. The two firms hoped to reach a decision before the planned launch of JSkyB in April. "The two firms have reached a basic agreement to start discussions on a possible merger as early as February," he added.
PerfecTV, launched over a year ago, has so far attracted just 500,000 subscribers less than expected. Observers said that analogue satellite broadcasts, so far reaching 11 million households in Japan, will be a major obstacle for the introduction of the proposed digital services. That's not because those existing services are analogue (they will indeed go digital by 2000, thus freeing up capacity for more digital packages) but because the use direct broadcast satellites (DBS.)
Both JSkyB as well as PerfectTV use capacity on medium-power communications satellites that require larger dishes for reception. Besides, most of the DBS programming is available for free while the proposed digital services (JSkyB, PerfecTV and their rival DirecTV Japan) are pay-TV.
USELESS FACT: There's a town in England called Diss. You can never get to it, though. As you get close -- over the horizon -- Diss appears. (Geoff Toon)
I'm quite pleased to notice that many readers like the useless facts that I have included over the past few weeks to celebrate International Useless Facts Month. Some have even contributed useless facts thank you very much! In fact, today's useless facts were all supplied by Sat-ND readers.
Some of you have asked to keep the Useless Facts bits as a permanent feature. This won't be possible, I'm afraid. Although my Useless Facts Database contains some 2,500 useless facts, I reckon only half of them are interesting (and short) enough. So I will run out of useless facts within a few month's time unless you send me some new ones.
Anyway, I'll promise to keep up this unique service as long as possible ;-)
As the Western World goes bonkers at this time of year for reasons not worth mentioning, many of you have sent me seasons greetings.
Thank you very much, and have fun with whatever you do at this time of year, even if it includes chopping off tress and putting them into your living room. Hopefully, all you Christians (no, I'm not one of you) will finally overcome such an atavistic behaviour and start acting sensibly even in December.
I hope you don't mind me sending out very special greetings to all readers who, just like me, think this is by no means an interesting or notable time of year and just keep working instead (for whatever reason, be it religious or not.)
Of course, Sat-ND will be published over the next few days as usual if there are any noteworthy news I don't care for regional and/or confessional holidays.
Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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