Sat-ND, 06.01.1998 Med kinderveilige sluiting
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Great Danes again
According to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan's Nissan Motor Co. plans to join the low and medium Earth orbit satellite launch business by 2001.
Those small spacecraft are usually launched on large rockets, which for example can accommodate five Iridiums. Nissan won't offer that, of course, but small, solid-fuelled rockets that can put only one satellite into orbit at a time. Launch vehicles like that proposed by Nissan may be in demand later, when satellite operators will have to replace single ageing or malfunctioning satellites at low cost.
The development of the Nissan rocket will reportedly cost some ¥10 billion. The launch of a single satellite will be offered at ¥2 billion a multiple launch on a larger rocket costs four times that much. Nissan expects annual sales of ¥200 billion (in other words: 100 launches per year, if I'm not completely mistaken. Isn't that a bit too optimistic?)
NISSAN Global CyberCruise <http://www.nissan.co.jp/>
USELESS FACT: "Hara kiri" is an impolite way of saying the Japanese word "seppuku" which means, literally, "belly splitting."
I published that last year, so I'll publish it this time, too. The European Space Agency (ESA) has in a press release lined up the most important European space activities of the new year. Here's a selection:
27/1: Kourou, French Guiana: Ariane 4 launch (V105). Payload:
Brasilsat B3, Inmarsat 3 F5.
End: Kourou, French Guiana: Ariane 4 launch (V106). Payload: Hotbird 4.
2nd half: Kourou, French Guiana: Ariane 4 launch (V107). Payload:
31/3: Rome, Italy: Artemis telecommunication satellite delivered to ESA.
End: Bordeaux, France: Automatic Reentry Demonstrator delivery to ESA.
2nd half: Kourou, French Guiana: Ariane 4 launch (V108). Payload: Insat 2E and Nilsat 1.
t.b.c.: Noordwijk, the Netherlands: Testing of Meteosat Second
Generation structural model at ESA/ESTEC.
end (t.b.c.): Kourou, French Guiana: Third launch of Ariane 5 (A503). Payload: Automatic Reentry Demonstrator (ARD) and commercial payload (to be determined.)
t.b.d.: Kourou, French Guiana: Ariane 4 launch (V112). Payload: Skynet.
t.b.d.: Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA: Space Shuttle flight
STS-95 with ESA astronaut Pedro Duque on board and ESA
t.b.d.: Noordwijk, the Netherlands: Testing of Polar Platform/Envisat flight unit.
ESA noted that dates of certain events, especially those related to launches, very much depend on various parameters such as readiness of spacecraft and of launcher, etc. and thus remain t.b.c. (to be confirmed) or t.b.d. (to be determined) for quite some time.
USELESS FACT: Removing pubic hair was a fashionable sexual practice among European women in the 16th century.
Early Bird 1 was to become the Earth imaging satellite for everybody (everybody with a credit card and an Internet account, that is cf. Sat-ND, 12.12.97.) Will it?
According to news agency Itar-Tass, U.S.-based satellite operator EarthWatch Inc. announced it was unable to re-establish communications with Early Bird. The satellite, capable of producing images of a three-metre resolution, was launched back on December 24, 1997 from the Russian Svobodny cosmodrome.
So far, I couldn't find any confirmation for that story, especially not on EarthWatch's web site on which the December 24 launch is noted as the last important event.
USELESS FACT: Birds do not sleep in their nests. They may occasionally nap in them, but they actually sleep in other places.
Everybody's talking about satellite manufacturers and those wonderful new birds they produce, and everybody's looking at rocket launches. There will be more satellites, more launches but what about the ground segment?
The commercialisation of the satellite industry has had more of an impact on Earth station manufacturers than satellite manufacturers to date. Unit sales are booming, but as there is fierce competition, average prices drop four to seven percent per year. According to new strategic research from Frost & Sullivan ("World Satellite Earth Station Component Markets",) brand name and reliability are two major drivers in the current market. As a result, manufacturers face a key strategic choice, differentiation or reduced profit margin, Frost & Sullivan said in a press release.
"The Earth station antenna market is the largest subsegment, making up an increasing share of market revenues over the forecast period," says Telecommunications Industry Manager Greg Caressi. "Revenues in the antenna segment made up just over half of the total component market revenues in the past years and are forecasted to make up over 70 percent of total component market revenues by the year 2003. "The antenna market is strongly influenced by the explosion in subscriber terminals in the direct to home (DTH) broadcast market and mobile telephony market.
Market leaders vary by segment but the majority are firms that specialise in component production, rather than larger earth station manufacturers with integrated operations. Many niche firms struggle on the margins, producing small runs to fill orders, unable to generate revenues to support expansion outside their limited markets.
According to Frost & Sullivan, "World Satellite Earth Station Component Markets" delves into the key strategies that market leaders are using to remain at the top of the market. Further, it offers easy access to market analysis and forecasting that guides companies not only to survival, but to success.
Frost & Sullivan <http://www.frost.com/>
USELESS FACT: Americans eat 228,000 onions every day.
Hong Kong-based APT Satellite Holdings Ltd. plans to offer a Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) service in China and is is currently seeking approval from the Ministry of Broadcasting, Film and Television in Beijing.
APT, which will spend some US$300 and raise additional funds to finance its DBS system, hopes to get the go ahead in the first quarter of 1998. The service will also be available in Macao and Taiwan.
As reported (Sat-ND, 16.11.97,) APT plans to provide DBS services with the launch of Apstar IIID in 2000.
APT Satellite Holdings Limited <http://www.apstar.com/>
USELESS FACT: Half the population of China is myopic (short sighted), and a further 30 percent require some sort of vision correction. [No doubt they will enjoy those low-quality digital TV broadcasts then, which offer a far worse picture resolution than conventional analogue broadcasts irrespective of what those digital protagonists are trying to make anyone believe.]
Polish public broadcaster Telewizja Polska SA said its channel TVP 1 was the most viewed station in the country over the past few days, that is.
According to a survey by the public opinion polling agency OBOP, TVP 1 held between 32.9 and 38.3 percent of the viewing audience in the period from December 31 to January 4. Commercial rival Polsat came in second with between 21 and 32.7 percent, and TVP 2 scored between 11.4 and 21.3 percent.
TVP and Polsat are the only broadcasters that hold nation-wide terrestrial licenses.
Telewizja Polska S.A. <http://www.tvp.com.pl/>
WWW w budowie... <http://www.polsat.com.pl/> [under construction]
USELESS FACT: Augustus II, the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland seemed to have a prodigious sexual appetite, and fathered hundreds of illegitimate children during his lifetime.
Canal France International (CFI) will sue France Télécom over a small technical glitch that nonetheless led to CFI's TV channel being kicked from Arabsat.
CFI, a state-funded channel that broadcasts outside France, is pretty harmless. However, because somebody at France Télécom's uplink station flicked the wrong switch, a hard-core movie suddenly appeared on Arabsat during a children's programme last July (Sat-ND, 21./22.7.97.)
And that was it; Arabsat jointly operated by 21 Arab countries considered the uplink contract "finished," even though CFI and the French government deeply regretted "this unacceptable incident" and shared "in high feelings prompted in Saudi-Arabia and more widely in the Arab world."
Unfortunately, there are no further details available on the litigation, only that a preliminary court hearing was to take place today.
CFI was the only channel broadcasting French programmes to the Arab world until Arabsat agreed to lease air time to French language channel TV5 in October (Sat-ND, 14.10.97.) Last weekend, by the way, TV5 was also launched in the USA a bit later that expected (Sat-ND, 22.10.97.)
France Télécom <http://www.francetelecom.fr/> [seulement en français, or something like that]
USELESS FACT: The original story from Tales of 1001 Arabian Nights begins, "Aladdin was a little Chinese boy."
Britain's Granada Group Plc and Carlton Communications Plc are expected to announce the companies that will manufacture set-top boxes for their digital TV venture soon, industry sources said.
"The process is continuing, and we've been extremely pleased by the response to our tender," a BDB spokesman was quoted as saying. It's by the way not so very interesting who will receive the order as could be expected, the names of companies such as Nokia, Philips and Pace appear in rumours.
The order will, however, show how much demand BDB expects for its service, which is set for launch next autumn. Of course, the set-top box will be heavily subsidised, so that it can be sold for £200.
Nothing here, don't even try it: <http://www.bdb.co.uk/> [not related to BDB in any way]
British Interactive Broadcasting -- BIB <http://www.bib.co.uk/> [under construction]
USELESS FACT: In 1896, Britain and Zanzibar were at war for 38 minutes.
Franc's Groupe AB announced that AB Sat, the Company's digital DTH service, had 50,000 subscribers as of December 31, 1997, up from 20,000 as of the end of September but less than earlier expected.
Claude Berda, Chairman and Chief Executive of Groupe AB, said, "We are very satisfied with the acceleration in AB Sat's subscriber growth to an average of 10,000 new additions per month in the fourth quarter. This growth was driven primarily by subscriptions to our AB Decouverte option which is marketed to Canalsatellite subscribers. AB Sat says its success in increasing subscribers demonstrates that its offerings are extremely complementary with other premium services."
Earlier last year, AB Sat was expected to have 75,000 subscribers by the end of 1997. The service was launched in December 1996.
AB Sat offers a variety of subscription options which are available using an AB Sat or Canalsatellite decoder box as well as through cable. In addition, AB Sat also provides channels to its competitor Canalsatellite and to the main French cable operators for broadcast in their basic package.
A few months ago, newspapers claimed AB Sat was in negotiations to merge its service with that of rival TPS. In the meantime, it has turned out that a merger between the two leading services TPS (320,000 subscribers) and Canalsatellite (500,000 subscribers) is more likely (Sat-ND, 27.11.97.)
AB Sat <http://www.absat.com/>
USELESS FACT: Syphilis was known as "the French Disease" in Italy and "the English Disease" in France.
NextLevel Systems Inc. and Sony announced that they plan to form a "strategic alliance," subject to definitive agreements, to jointly develop digital TV technologies.
The companies are discussing future generations of digital cable TV devices and high definition television (HDTV) products, as well as incorporating new features like Sony's Home Network architecture into NextLevel's advanced digital set-top boxes.
Both companies are exploring a broader business relationship and Sony, when definitive agreements are reached, will purchase 7.5 million new shares of NextLevel common stock (approximately five percent of the current outstanding) at a price of $25.00 per share. The deal could give Sony a prime spot in the U.S. cable television market. At the same time it gives NextLevel access to Sony's sales channels, such as Radio Shack and Circuit City Stores.
Recently, NextLevel announced that most of the leading U.S. cable system operators intend to purchase at least 15 million set-top boxes, valued at more than US$4.5 billion over the next three to five years. NextLevel Systems also announced that it is changing its name back to General Instrument Corporation. The former General Instrument Corp. was split into three companies last July: Next Level, CommScope, and General Semiconductor.
Next Level or General Instrument claims it was a world leader in the cable/satellite TV business, providing both analogue and digital systems that offer video, audio and high- speed Internet/data services over cable television and satellite networks. It is the only company mass-deploying digital cable set-tops in the North American market.
Sony was described in Next Level's press release as a global leader of audio, video, television and information technology products and electronic components. With its music, film and video game businesses, Sony is also one of the world's top entertainment companies.
USELESS FACT: Japan's pampered Kobe cattle regularly get to drink beer. [No word about Sumo wrestlers in my database, though.]
EchoStar is reportedly set to start offering local television channels in the U.S. this month over its Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) system 'Dish Network' in an unprecedented and highly controversial move.
The company is expected to announce its local broadcasting plans, which are likely to involve Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, next Thursday at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas.
The New York Post reported that EchoStar faces opposition from the broadcast and and the cable industry. The biggest threat to their local TV via satellite venture comes from the cable guys who demand that all available local channels be broadcast on satellite as well as on cable. "Available" means something very different for a DBS satellite, though: all U.S. channels would have to be broadcast in that case, which is if course impossible even when using digital compression technology.
Observers think the issue will sooner or later keep the courts busy. On the other hand, it's thought that U.S. regulators won't mind a bit more competition to the cable industry.
The company's EchoStar III satellite, launched last October, will give it the capacity to start beaming local broadcasts to the East Coast and Central U.S. regions. EchoStar IV, to be launched in the first quarter of this year, could carry local broadcast channels to the Western and Mountain regions.
USELESS FACT: 20 million Americans watch pornography annually.
Centuries ago, European Christians tried to spread their belief to the region now known as the Middle East on violent crusades. Nowadays, they use a powerful AM transmitter on Cyprus with the help of U.S. fellow Christians.
International Christian broadcasters Back to the Bible (BTTB) and Trans World Radio (TWR) signed a strategic alliance to produce, air, and fund special programs to women, youth, and those not literate in the Middle East, calling it "an effort to make a lasting spiritual impact in the lives of more people" throughout that region an effort worth US$150,000.
The press release said Christians around the world were praying for Muslims to commit their lives to Jesus Christ during the holy month of Ramadan. "The more we discover about the world of Islam and talk to people who minister to those of this faith," stated TWR President Thomas J. Lowell, "the more we're convinced we have a tremendous responsibility to go and proclaim the same grace we've received from God with those who live where the Gospel has its roots."
Plans call for the broadcasts to begin next autumn from a 600,000-watt AM transmitter on Cyprus. The programs are designed to proclaim the love and forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ to people who may not have the opportunity to hear the Gospel in any other way.
For more than 55 years and based in Lincoln, Nebraska, Back to the Bible is a worldwide service ministry seeking to lead people into a dynamic personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Trans World Radio, broadcasting since 1954 and headquartered in Cary, North Carolina, airs each week more than 1,200 hours of Christian programs in over 130 languages from 12 primary transmitting sites and via satellite on three continents.
[Sorry, all this is so silly I just can't comment it without running the risk of simply laughing myself to death.]
Back To The Bible <http://www.gospelcom.net/bttb/listen/bttb >
Trans World Radio <http://www.gospelcom.net/twr/>
USELESS FACT: 14th century crusaders defending the city of Caffa in Crimea were horrified when the Tartars began catapulting the dead bodies of plague victims over the city walls. The Tartars themselves died of plague, after which the Crusaders returned to Italy, bringing plague with them. Within two decades the bubonic plague had wiped out 25 percent of the population of Europe from Yugoslavia to Greenland. Four-fifths of the population of Marseilles died in this way.
Detlef J. Schmidt wrote in to tell me that I got a URL wrong in Sat-ND, 3.1.98. The correct URL for Inmarsat is indeed http://www.inmarsat.org/. He's probably right, although I didn't check it. Thanks!
I recently wrote that my database of useless facts did not contain any useless facts about Denmark (Sat-ND, 24.12.97.) That left a Danish reader really unhappy, asking me "What do you want to know about Denmark..."
Nothing, of course. But I'm here to please everyone, and as my database has almost doubled to 4982 entries since then, enjoy the following useless Danish facts (and I'm sure the few Danish Sat-ND readers left will have the sense of humour to enjoy them, too.)
Average weight of a Chinese man's testicles measured in grams: 19. Average weight of a Dane's in grams: 42. [If in doubt, consult your dictionary for an explanation. Hint: in this case, Danes are no necessarily human, neither do they have to live in Denmark.]
A 17th-century Swedish philologist claimed that in the Garden of Eden God spoke Swedish, Adam spoke Danish, and the serpent spoke French. [What about Eva was she Chinese?!]
One of the many useless facts out there in Useless Facts Land is this: "The Danish word for condom is 'svangerskabsforebyggendemiddel.'" This is not entirely correct, I know it means nothing but 'contraceptive' when translated back to English. You could do the same trick with the similar German word "Schwangerschaftsverhütungsmittel" which also means 'contraceptive' and not just 'condom.' So, don't believe every useless fact you read!
Copyright 1998 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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