Sat-ND, 24.12.1997 Dedicated to Lucy Jordan
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Digital terrestrial TV in Japan delayed
China's commercial telecommunications satellite Asiasat-3 has been successfully launched aboard a Russian Proton-K from the Baikonur cosmodrome at 2.19 a.m. Moscow time Thursday (2319 UTC Wednesday.)
The satellite was launched by Russian Strategic Missile Forces, reported Itar-Tass. The launch, originally scheduled for December 23, was delayed owing to strong winds. It was the first launch of a Proton booster ever to have been aborted by weather conditions. (Asiasat 3 details: Sat-ND, 16./21.12.97.)
Today's launch was the ninth and last in 1997. All of the previous eight launches had been successful. Proton rockets put into orbit 17 foreign commercial satellites, two Russian military satellites and the first Russian bank satellite Kupon, commissioned by the Central Bank of Russia (Sat-ND, 13.11.97.)
Moscow' Khrunichev Space Centre, the maker of the Proton boosters, has ambitious plans, said Itar-Tass. Twelve commercial launches of foreign and nine launches of Russian satellites are scheduled for 1998.
USELESS FACT: One in five of the world's 2.5 million medical doctors are Russian.
More than year after the originally planned Launch date, Russia today launched a commercial U.S. imaging satellite from its Far East cosmodrome in Svobodny.
Early Bird was put into orbit by a Start-1, a converted intercontinental nuclear missile, at 4:32 p.m. Moscow time (1332 UTC.) The 60-tonnes rocket can loft satellites of up to 650 into low orbits.
As reported in Sat-ND, 12.12.97, Early Bird will offer a resolution of down to 3 metres and the imaging will be available to anyone with an Internet access and a credit card. There's more about the complicated launch history of Early Bird in Sat-ND, 9.12.97.
USELESS FACT: If NASA sent [real] birds into space they would soon die -- they need gravity to swallow.
Orbcomm yesterday launched eight satellites into their target orbit approximately 800 kilometres above the Earth. In the next few days, satellite controllers at Orbcomm's Network Control Centre in Dulles, VA, plan to establish contact with the satellites and begin the approximately three-month testing and deployment phase.
The Pegasus XL rocket [have I already mentioned that this sounds like a condom brand to me?] was fired from Orbital Science's L-1011 carrier aircraft at an altitude of 13 kilometres. After a 72-minute flight, the eight Orbcomm satellites were injected into their target orbit. Following the separation of the last of the eight satellites, the Pegasus fourth stage completed the planned burn of the remaining hydrazine fuel. [Important to reduce the risk of creating unwanted space junk.]
Preliminary indications are that all eight satellites separated successfully from the Pegasus rocket. Initial communications with the Orbcomm satellites are proceeding as expected.
1998, Orbcomm will increase the communications availability in the U.S. from an average of 1½ hours per day to 12 hours per day. With the planned launch of 18 more satellites in the first half of 1998, Orbcomm will be able to provide near real-time commercial data and messaging communications to customers in the transportation, marine, oil and gas, utilities, heavy equipment and defence industries.
USELESS FACT: The red giant star Betelgeuse has a diameter larger than that of the Earth's orbit around the sun.
Several kompanies have this week filed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for additional chunks of the Ka-band in order to expand their planned systems.
Too many details aren't available yet. Hughes Electronics, for example, proposes two extensions to the original Spaceway plans: a US$2.3 billion system of geostationary satellites kalled Spaceway EXP, as well as a US$2.4 billion, 20-satellite Spaceway NGSO (non-geostationary orbit.)
Applications by other kompanies, among them Alcatel Alsthom reportedly also involve billion-dollar extensions to their systems. Alcatel reportedly wants to add 96 [!] geostationary satellites to its Skybridge system at a kost in the US$6 billion range. [No, I don't really think they do mean 96 geostationary satellites, but that's how it was reported. Sorry folks.]
Among the other kompanies that want new Ka-band allocations were Lockheed Martin and TRW, which wants to regain some spectrum is lost earlier as the result of an unrelated regulatory decision.
"We had always envisioned adding more spectrum to meet market demand," said Hughes spokeswoman Wendy Greene. Of course, all that shouldn't be taken too seriously these are all paper satellites. Those kompanies secure their frequency chunks just to make sure no-one else does.
Maybe those plans will be realised, maybe not. What seems to have happened here is that there is more Ka-band kapacity available, maybe as the result of the last World Radiokommunications Konference, and "If there's spectrum out there, you want to gobble up as much as you can," an analyst was quoted as saying.
USELESS FACT: The snow carnival scheduled for May 1, 1953, in Sheridan, Wyoming, was cancelled because of too much snow.
The Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC) has published new Broadcasting Distribution Regulations, to come into effect on 1 January 1998.
The new regulations, which replace the existing cable television regulations, apply to all distributors of broadcasting services in Canada, including cable, MDS and LMCS services, as well as DTH satellite distributors. In a nutshell:
The new regulations provide equitable opportunities for all distributors of broadcasting services. As a general rule, new entrants have to meet the same signal carriage and substitution requirements that are imposed on existing cable systems.
Access policies to ensure that Canadian pay and specialty services can reach their intended audiences have now become part of the regulations. This is particularly important for a number of licensed Canadian specialty services that have not yet been launched, since there is currently no channel capacity to accommodate them. In order to ensure that these services have access to Canadian distributing systems, the new regulations require that they be carried on analogue channels by 1 September 1999, or when distributors have at least 15 percent digital box deployment, whichever comes first.
All distributors, except for very small systems with less than 2,000 subscribers, are required to contribute at least 5 percent of their gross annual broadcasting revenues to the creation and presentation of Canadian programming. The allocation of these contributions can vary depending on the type and size of the distribution system involved. For instance, DTH distributors must allocate all of their contribution to one or more qualifying Canadian production funds.
In order for consumers to obtain the full benefits of competition, they must be able to connect cable wiring inside their premises to the distributor of their choice. The new regulations require distributors to offer customers the option of purchasing their inside wire for a nominal fee, when they choose to discontinue service, in order to allow them to switch to another service provider.
The CRTC said it considers that these new regulations will encourage greater competition in the broadcasting distribution sector, and provide greater regulatory clarity for players in a more competitive and technologically advanced environment, while ensuring access by Canadians to Canadian services. The Commission intends to undertake a general review of the effectiveness and appropriateness of the new regulations after two years.
USELESS FACT: The province of Alberta in Canada has been completely free of rats since 1905.
Teledesic has found another investor: Saudi Prince Al Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud.
"Prince Al Waleed plans to invest in a joint project with Teledesic to finance and launch a network of satellites that will transmit voice, data, and the Internet to cover every spot on Earth," said the statement from his office in Riyadh, Saudi-Arabia.
According to the statement, Al-Walled met Teledesic CEO Craig McCaw during a tour of the United States in the last two weeks. It did not give any details on the prince's planned investment in the US$9 billion "Internet-in-the-sky" project.
The prince [who has at least US$11 billion more than Al Bundy] recently said he wanted "to concentrate on communications, technology, entertainment and news" and bought into Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, Netscape, and Motorola (Sat-ND, 25.11.97.)
USELESS FACT: A Saudi Arabian woman can get a divorce if her husband doesn't give her coffee.
What a surprise: Japan's television networks, both public and commercial, will launch digital TV services on direct broadcast satellites (DBS) prior to offering them terrestrially.
According to Kyodo news agency, has signalled it will approve that plan brought forward by the broadcasting industry. Originally, both DBS and terrestrial digital TV were due to start in 2000. Broadcaster pointed out that while the introduction of terrestrial digital TV would cost more than a trillion yen, it offered less benefits than digital DBS services.
Kyodo said that public broadcaster NHK is expected to publish a long-term management plan in January that will already include the precedence of digital DBS TV over digital terrestrial services.
USELESS FACT: A family of six died in Oregon during WWII as a result of a Japanese balloon bomb.
Centuries ago, I wrote that Denmark's first and only pay-TV sports channel TVS will be shut down at the end of 1997. I guess I wrote that "the channel had been set up by Denmark's public broadcasters in co-operation with the Danish Football [soccer] Association."
Mogens Poulsen wrote in to tell me that
"The main shareholder is the Danish Telecom, not TV Denmark, which (as you already know -- you were only testing us!?!) is a number of regional private broadcasters airing the same programs at the same time -- terrestrial and via satellite.
Hmm... I have to admit that I do live in a place that's pretty close to Denmark; closer than to any other country in the world, and under certain ionospheric conditions, I can receive Danish TV and radio terrestrially. But apart from that I have to admit that I don't know much about the TV landscape there (neither do I know about the TV landscape in any other country of the world.)
Okay, but that's Sat-ND: I'll compile all that stuff that's available out there somewhere in cyberspace. Please don't expect me to check it out for you, and please don't expect me to have a brain of my own because I just haven't. My apologies for that; I was born like that and I just can't help it. Poor me ;-)
USELESS FACT: There is not a single entry containing the word "Denmark" in my Useless Facts database, which currently comprises 2532 items. Er... make that 2533 items.
Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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