Sat-ND, 03.01.1998 Now even more useless than ever
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This is just too long for a "Useless facts" bit: The Russian Space Agency launched 29 rockets last year which put a total of 48 satellites in orbit.
27 of the satellites were from Russia, 18 from the U.S., and one each from China, Germany and Luxembourg. In 1997, Russia's space industry signed contracts worth a total of US$470 million with foreign companies, reported Interfax. It is hoped that that amount can be raised by over a third to US$640 million in 1998.
USELESS FACT: Catherine the First of Russia made a rule that no man was allowed to get drunk at one of her parties before nine o'clock [a.m. or p.m.?]
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to launch one remote sensing satellite every year until 2002, reported the Press Trust of India (PTI.)
The satellites will be launched aboard indigenous rockets, the project director of ISRO's Indian remote sensing program, Dr. S. Kalayanaraman told PTI. Launching a satellite every years was necessary to maintain continuity in service the Indian spy satellites have an operational life of three years.
Kalayanaraman added that the next satellite in the Indian IRS series, P4 or "OceanSat-1," is to be launched this year from Sriharikota island, near the southern city of Madras. It will have only a limited capability of monitoring land and will focus on oceanographic studies instead. IRS-P5, to be launched in 1999, will concentrate on "cartographic studies" and hence be named "CartoSat-1." It will also be useful in urban planning, Kalayanaraman said.
IRS-P6, to be launched in 2000, will study agriculture, find water resources, etc. OceanSat-2 is due for launch in 2001, CartoSat-2 in 2002. Imaging from Indian remote sensing satellites is also internationally marketed.
USELESS FACT: According to Blitz Magazine in Bombay, India, 28 year old Nagaba Jugalgiri pulled a car with his penis in front of Mahalakshmi Temple in protest of India's 1989 oil crisis.
Boeing and Matra Marconi Space are set to launch a United Kingdom Ministry of Defence communications satellite aboard a Delta II rocket, January 9 from Cape Canaveral Air Station, Fla.
The 73-minute launch window will open at 2338 UTC, Boeing said in a press release. Matra Marconi Space built the satellite, Skynet 4D, which is the first of three spacecraft replacing the existing satellites in order to extend the Skynet 4 communications system. The Stage 2 satellite is an enhanced version of the existing Skynet 4 satellites and two similar NATO IV spacecraft. The new version incorporates steerable antennas for super-high-frequency spot-beam communications, increased power and greater anti-jamming capability.
This is the first Delta launch scheduled for 1998, a year in which a record-setting, 18 launches are currently scheduled. Boeing will also roll out its newest expendable rocket this year with the maiden flight of Delta III. Delta III is the first US launch vehicle designed and developed for the commercial satellite industry. The Delta III can lift more than 4,000 kg into geosynchronous transfer orbit, twice the payload capacity of the Delta II.
USELESS FACT: 15 percent of Americans bite their fingernails.
Weeks after the United States military's attempt to zap a satellite with a giant laser gun, White House officials said they have proposed sharing some information on lasers shot in space with Russia.
Not even this is a fact as it has not been officially announced. There are no facts in this strange business. Remember the October 17 test of the (probably) largest laser gun in the world, Miracl, against a satellite? There were no results, even to U.S. Army spokesmen (Sat-ND, 23.10.97.)
Now there are reports the satellite had indeed been hit, albeit with relatively low power, and "temporarily blinded." It's impossible to discuss that any further; I thought I'd just let you know.
However, low-power laser shots at satellites seem to be nothing special, at least not in the U.S. That's why the government is now reportedly ready to provide warnings on imminent tests to Russia in order to avoid unintended laser strikes on satellites and other objects in orbit.
Speaking under the condition of anonymity, an official said that "The purpose of the clearing house is to deconflict planned shots of laser beams above the horizon."
Under the proposal, the US Space Command in Colorado would warn the Russian of laser shots above the horizon just like it currently alerts US commercial satellite operators of such tests. The same would be expected from Russia, which (as the official indicated) is thought to perform similar tests.
"When there's going to be a laser beam shot above the horizon there would be an exchange of information about the planned shot so we could inform the Russians if this might conflict with any object currently in orbit," the official said. The Russians have not formally responded to the proposal.
U.S. officials were quoted as saying that between 20 and 30 countries are believed to have ground based lasers capable of reaching space. (Yes, one has to read all that very carefully. Did you note that "Reaching space" does not mean "interfering with satellite operations"?)
A news agency wrote that "With the military and commerce increasingly dependent on satellites, their vulnerabilities have become of the focus of intensifying scrutiny by the U.S. military."
Actually, it's just they other way round. Technological progress makes the U.S. lose their dominance of space. High-resolution imaging of almost any spot on Earth will soon be available to almost anybody, maybe even on the Internet, without interference from the U.S. or anybody else.
The only interference one could think of is brute force, for example a short laser flash (and maybe it can't even be proven where it came from.)
USELESS FACT: Laser means Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.
Satellites generally have boring names that mostly don't even mean anything. Sometimes, they're just named after the organisation or company they belong to.
It is different in Canada where Telecommunications company Telesat launched a National Satellite Contest last November in order to find a name for its planned direct broadcast satellite (DBS.) So far, Telesat has received more than 6,000 entries. Marilynn Wright, vice president of Telesat, would not reveal any of the leading satellite names received so far, but in a press release offered a glimpse of some of the more entertaining submissions.
Some entrants focus on the satellite's power -- offering names such as The Boss of the Future, The Mother of All Satellites and El Niño. Others (no doubt direct-to-home TV fans) hail its coming with grandiose possibilities such as Earth Guru; Universal Beam, Galaxy Love, The Phunk-a-Tron; Sweet Balm of Berceuse and Bird of Paradise.
Wright said that an amazing number of people are eager for their own chance at immortality, suggesting versions of their own first names -Tele-Simon; Celestial Ned, The Reza-Max 2000; Gord; SuperRod; Dave and Bub.
Other entrants draw their inspiration from pop culture -- Canada's Third Rock from the Sun; Princess Leia Launcher; Big Bird; and Buzz Lightyear. A final group takes to heart the need for the name to be distinctly Canadian -The Celestial Maple; Nucker Canucker; Shiny Beaver; Mountie-Vision; Poutine; and Itzarze (i.e., "It's ours, eh?")
Telesat's DBS satellite will carry the signals of two major customers: ExpressVu, one of Canada's two direct-to-home television services, and a new service called Electronic Digital Delivery (EDD), an electronic "video store in the sky" which will allow viewers to order movies and other programming downloaded via satellite.
Telesat Canada <http://www.telesat.ca/>
USELESS FACT: There are more Barbie dolls in Italy than there are Canadians in Canada.
Did I just say that satellites generally have boring names that mostly don't even mean anything? Funnily, the same applies to this so-called newsletter!
Some people have asked, and the answer is no: Sat-ND is not an acronym or an abbreviation for anything, it's just a result of my very limited imagination. I hate that name, by the way, so you're in for (guess what) another competition. Yawn.
So: what should I call this so-called newsletter in the future? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The winner will not only be mentioned here but, as usual, be entitled to receive this so-called newsletter for free as long as it exists. All other readers will get it without charge for the same period of time. The jury consists of one person, and of course that's me.
USELESS FACT: The Middle ear and the Pharynx are joined with the Eustachian tube.
The last satellite of the Inmarsat III series, Inmarsat III-F5, is slated for launch on January 27 aboard an Ariane rocket. If all goes well, this will also mean some fundamental changes for the Inmarsat system.
Actually, there will be two Inmarsat systems. The older birds from the series II, so far co-positioned with the Inmarsat-III satellites, will be moved by 40 degrees from their current position. (Inmarsat satellites are, by the way, kept not quite geostationary in order to allow coverage of the polar regions.) In a first move, Inmarsat-II satellites will be moved to 110°E and 98°W.
This separation will not only allow a complete re-usage of the available frequency spectrum. Actually, Inmarsat plans to offer long-term leases of the satellites' global beams. In addition, spot beam leases may be offered on Inmarsat IIIs.
Inmarsat officials said that despite the planned expansion of the Inmarsat system, the organisation still needs more frequencies for its planned Horizons broadband mobile satellite system. It seems unlikely, however, that the project will go ahead before the proposed privatisation of Inmarsat.
USELESS FACT: There were 37 extramarital affairs on 'Dallas' during the 1980s.
Many think of him as the man who discovered the geostationary orbit, also known as Clarke belt. Wrong.
The geostationary orbit had been known for centuries when British-born science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke proposed in 1945 to put three communications satellites up there that would be capable of covering almost all of the Earth's surface.
It happened, even though modern satellite networks comprise more than just three spacecraft and use spot-beams to reach their target areas. Mr Clarke is known to be highly critical of what was broadcast over those satellites recently. Anyway, forget that Mr Clarke and try to think of Sir Arthur instead. Mr Clarke was among 25 knights and four life peers named by British Prime Minister Tony Blair last week.
Mr Clarke, who recently turned 80 and has been living in Sri Lanka for 30 years, said he was flattered after being knighted. "I wish I could go and meet the Queen at the palace, but my health will not permit me."
He will nonetheless meet Prince Charles on his visit to Sri Lanka next February.
USELESS FACT: There's a temple in Sri Lanka dedicated to a tooth of Buddha.
Orbcomm's Network Control Centre has established ground communication with all eight new satellites that were launched on December 23, 1997 aboard an Orbital Sciences Corporation Pegasus XL [sounds like a condom brand, eh?] rocket.
The eighth satellite, which initially could not be reached, appears to be healthy and is currently undergoing initial check-out, Orbcomm said in a press release. All eight new Orbcomm satellites are expected to be placed in commercial service in about 90 days. The average orbit of the satellites is reported to be a near-perfect 816 by 824 kilometres.
"We are happy to have established communication with the remaining satellite," said Alan Parker, Orbcomm president and CEO. "Following comprehensive testing, we plan to have a working constellation of ten satellites."
In addition, Orbital Sciences said it "substantially resolved an electrical power situation on another satellite that was previously reported."
Orbcomm is a partnership owned by Orbital Sciences Corporation, Teleglobe Inc. of Canada and Technology Resources Industries Bhd. of Malaysia.
USELESS NEWS: Orbital Sciences Corporation announced that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) successfully deployed the company's OrbTrac-100 Automatic Vehicle Location and Fleet Management system. Orbital's system enables VDOT to tell which roadways have been plowed, salted or sanded by tracking snowplow and other road maintenance vehicles on a digital map that represents a designated service area. [I just hate snow, don't you?]
Asia Satellite Telecommunications Holdings Ltd. won't have to take any special charges because of the failed launch of AsiaSat 3, a company executive was quoted as saying.
The launch failure will notwithstanding impact Asiasat's revenue and earnings growth in 1998, admitted William Wade, deputy chief executive officer of AsiaSat. He pointed out that the company's insurance plan for AsiaSat 3 fully covered all of its expenses relating to the launch, including insurance premiums that would have otherwise been amortised over the operating life of the satellite had the launch been successful.
Shortly after the loss of Asiasat 3, the company's stock plunged more than 25 percent but recovered later. Observers expected the income of Hong Kong based company to be cut by US$65 million this year as a result of the launch failure. Prior to the launch, Goldman Sachs said Asiasat 3 was expected to generate some US$30 million revenue in 1998.
USELESS FACT: The city with the most Rolls Royce's per capita is Hong Kong.
Just recently, guerilla fighters from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia stormed an army outpost in the Andes mountains and destroyed key communications towers.
The Western world is more than happy to provide technology to fight what they and the Colombian government consider Marxist rebels. France's Alcatel Alsthom will reportedly deliver a US$42-million satellite communications system that will replace vulnerable terrestrial radio and microwave links so far used by army and police units.
At least, that's what an unnamed Colombian army source told my favourite news agency recently, adding that "the sophisticated satellite network was expected to be ready by mid-1998." As one may expect, no details were given not even on the satellite being used.
By the way: the U.S. of A. do some good work in Colombia, too. They have provided the government with Vietnam-era helicopters two of which have recently crashed within one week, while reportedly performing "anti-narcotics" operations.
USELESS FACT: The word for insect faeces is "frass."
I guess you already know that Microsoft has bought Hotmail last week, so all you Billy bashers out there will have to use another e-mail redirection service. But that's just peanuts if the following turns out to be true.
Microsoft Corp. plans to invest US$1 billion next week in cable giant Tele-Communications Inc. to speed development of television set-top boxes with Internet access, according to reports from CNBC and other services. A Microsoft spokeswoman said she could neither confirm nor deny the reports.
USELESS QUOTE: "640K ought to be enough for anybody." -- William Henry III (Bill) Gates, 1981.
Canadian broadcasters have sued 21 distributors of satellite reception equipment, seeking C$300 million in punitive and real damages. They also ask for an injunction to stop the selling of certain satellite dishes and U.S. programming.
The plaintiffs, led by Edmonton-based WIC Premium Television Ltd., also include satellite company ExpressVu Inc., Family Channel Inc. and TMN Networks Inc. Of course, all this comes in the aftermath of a decision by the Federal Court of Appeal which upheld a ruling that the grey market dishes infringe on copyright laws and broadcasting regulations in Canada.
What's relatively new, though, is that this time legal action is not only directed against manufacturers and distributors of those garbage-can lid sized dishes commonly used for digital DTH reception. Instead, the move goes also against the older 1.8-metre dishes (for C-band reception, I guess.)
USELESS FACT: Canada has one fifth of the world's supply of fresh water. However, only 10 percent is renewable.
U.S. news coverage of Pope John Paul II's visit to Cuba at the end of January may be censored not by Cuba but by a U.S. law.
To be more precise: the Helms-Burton law, which even most other Western countries find nothing but ridiculous, forbids U.S. companies to spend more than US$100 a day in living expenses for each employee going to Cuba. However, hotel rates aren't that cheap, not even in Cuba, and certainly not for employees of U.S. television networks. In fact, during the Pope visit rates are up to US$200 a night, which ironically proves that even in Cuba the rules of market economy are understood quite well.
In Washington, the State and Treasury departments have reportedly been consulting on the issue. TV networks face more problems as Cuban TV is demanding as much as US$100,000 to use its footage. What's the problem anyway we know what the pope looks like, don't we?
USELESS FACT: Cuba is the world's largest exporter of sugar.
The United Kingdom continues its onslaught against the most dangerous, dirty and dubious crime on Earth: Sex, especially when displayed on TV. Not to anyone, though: this is all about pay-TV that's not only aired late at night but also available to subscribers only.
According to reports, the government is set to ban yet another satellite porn channel to protect Britons from such disgusting, vile, illegal, dangerous and unarguably pervert smut such as common heterosexual human intercourse appearing on their clean and pristine TV screens. No, it doesn't even help that the government has changed last year.
The former UK government banned Red Hot Dutch, TV Erotica, Satisfaction Club Television and Rendez-Vous TV, which later merged with Eurotica the very same channel that's going to be banned next. In other words, selling and advertising of the smart cards required to receive the programmes, which originate from France, will become illegal in the UK.
A news agency noted that Secretary of State Chris Smith was believed to be on holiday in France[!] until the end of the week and added he had viewed some of the channel's material, as he is required to do under the procedure. That brave guy I just hope he didn't go blind or suffered any other permanent damages from being objected to the most disgusting sight of humans reproducing.
USELESS FACT: Aphallatosis is a mental disorder resulting from a lack of sex life.
China has introduced new measures to censor the Internet, claiming the world-wide network had been used to distribute state secrets and support dissident movements.
The new rules make it a criminal offence to use the Internet for distributing classified information, political subversion, and spreading pornography and violence. [What an exquisite combination.] The rules are also designed to protect against computer hacking, viruses and other computer-related crime.
Violators, whether Internet users or service providers, face fines of up to US$1,800 and unspecified criminal punishments. Under the new regulations, Internet providers would also be subject to supervision by Public Security officials and would be required to help track down violators.
News agency Xinhua cited figures from the Internet Information Centre of China showing more than 49,000 host computers and 250,000 personal computers were connected to the Internet at the end of last October.
USELESS FACT: The world's youngest parents were 8 and 9 and lived in China in 1910. [Compare that to recent press reports about an eleven year-old mother in the UK.]
Okay, "Hitachi" actually sounds like somebody sneezing if pronounced correctly. [How do I know? From the Japanese channel JSTV on Astra.] Hitachi Ltd. will set up a broadcasting company, reported Japan's Kyoto news agency.
As from April, pay-television programs produced by some 50 companies including exam-training schools and pharmaceutical firms will be broadcast via a communications satellite, reported Nihon Keizai Shimbun.
Programming spans from education over medicine to welfare and other topics. Hitachi is the first company to take advantage of last year's deregulation by the government allowing firms owned 20 percent or more by foreign investors to enter the broadcasting business, the paper said. Hitachi was owned 27.1 percent by non-Japanese at the end of last September.
USELESS FACT: 98 percent of Japanese are cremated.
by Dr Sarmaz
There are serious doubts whether Rupert Murdoch's News Corp will stay the same once his designated successor, his son Lachlan Murdoch takes over. Very serious doubts indeed.
Reportedly, Lachlan Murdoch sent out a Christmas picture card of himself wearing a Santa Claus hat to employees, customers and contacts. (No, I didn't get that card even though I really deserved it.)
There are more stunning reports on Lachie, under which nickname Mr Murdoch's third oldest child is also known. He had no problems with working as a sub-editor for a British tabloid many only refer to as "The Scum" and completing a thesis on "Freedom and Morality in Kant's Philosophy." Even more shocking: he once arrived at a movie premiere with a shaved head.
While Mr Murdoch himself and most observers think it's too early for 26 year-old Lachie to take over his father's global media empire, he seems to have gained influence.
At least, he told his father not to answer any questions about his views on local politicians at a press conference after the News Corp annual meeting last October. "I am under very strong instructions from my son to keep my mouth shut," Mr Murdoch admitted. In December 1996, just a few months before that incident, Mr Murdoch had offered the Australian prime minister talks about "the rebuilding of Australia" (Sat-ND, 18.12.96.)
USELESS FACT: A species of earthworm in Australia grow up to 3 metres in length.
Copyright 1998 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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