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Sat-ND, 16.1.98




Sat-ND, 16.01.1998  Beautiful freak
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Today's Headlines
LAUNCHES
Teledesic's launch mix: 50% Soyuz?
SATELLITES
Silent Bird
CNES joins SkyBridge
BUSINESS
Award for Ariancespace Finance
Seagram has one more sip of Universal
AsiaSat undervalued?
DIGITAL
Galaxy takes stake in Spanish digital TV
Modern Times
Crumbling monopolies
ONLINE
Asymmetric Australian Internet
FEEDBACK  Sat-ND, 15.1.98
Buffalo Mozzarella


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Editorial Blurb
Héll-llo!, it's me  Larry L. Lackapants, the editor of this so-called
newsletter. As any editor, I have the nasty habit of addressing my readers
even when having nothing important to say.
I *thought* I found a way to keep up the dual HTML/text feed even though my
computer is still seriously ill. It worked when I tried it a few hours ago.
It does not work right now, so as usual, here's the text version. Screamin'
fuckin' bloody mess!!! That's what happens when you rely on Microsoft
software.
The content of this issue more or less nicely rolls up this week's news 
sorry for all the delicate stuff I had to omit, but my time is limited.
Expect the next issue next week ;-)

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LAUNCHES
Teledesic's launch mix: 50% Soyuz?
It still isn't known how Teledesic will put the 288 satellites that form its
"Internet in the sky" into orbit from 2001. Reportedly, the Russian Soyuz
launch vehicle might be playing an important role.
Boeing, Teledesic's prime contractor, is said to be in talks with Starsem, a
joint venture between France's Aerospatiale (35%,) Arianespace (15%,) the
Russian Samara Space Centre (25%) and the Russian Space Agency (25%.)
While Starsem was founded with satellite constellations such as Teledesic in
mind, it was originally expected to use smaller rockets (such as converted
intercontinental ballistic missiles) to launch one or two satellites at a
time.
Meanwhile, it seems as though the company was more looking at finding
commercial applications for the Soyuz launcher, which in the past has been
used to send cosmonauts and cargo ships to the Mir space station. Starsem
will this year start to launch at least twelve, maybe even 46 Globalstar
satellites for Loral Space and Communications.
Teledesic spokesman Roger Nyhus was quoted as saying that Teledesic was
"still in the process of talking with launch providers around the world."
The company, he added, was "not yet ready to announce the final selection of
the launch vehicle mix." He confirmed that "We are certainly looking at
using Russian and Ukrainian launch vehicles." The Soyuz might be capable of
launching up to twelve Teledesics at a time.
The number of satellites to be launched for the Teledesic system means that
different launch systems will have to be used, almost certainly including
the Delta launcher by Teledesic's main contractor Boeing. Teledesic will use
smaller rockets only for maintenance launches, said Nyhus: "Because we have
288 satellites, plus in-orbit spares, we will initially be using heavy lift
vehicles."
Top
USELESS FACT: A quarter of Russia is covered by forest.

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SATELLITES
Silent Bird
There's still no news about the fate of Early Bird 1, the spacecraft that
was to become the first commercial Earth-imaging satellite. Nonetheless, its
operating still has hope.
As reported quite frequently, Early Bird 1 was launched on December 24, 1997
and went silent four days later. According to a spokesman for the satellite
operator, EarthWatch, controllers received data from the satellite before it
went silent that indicated an "anomalous under voltage condition." Which is
interesting, of course, but probably rather a consequence of yet another
malfunction  so it doesn't explain too much.
Reportedly, engineers from EarthWatch and Orbital Sciences (responsible for
the satellite structure) have set up a test site to figure out what could've
gone wrong. They even use parts they ripped off Early Bird 2 for their
simulations. Controllers are meanwhile still trying to re-gain contact with
Early Bird 1. Should they succeed, the first thing they'd do was to shut
down "non-critical components" to save battery power  but frankly, if there
really is an "under voltage condition," those parts aren't probably working
anyway.
The satellite, by the way, is still in its proper orbit of 470 kilometers
above Earth and stabilised by a slow rotation. Officials said there was no
danger of an early crash-back to Earth which, however, will inevitably occur
if contact can't be re-established.
Top
USELESS FACT: Bird droppings are the chief export of Nauru, an island nation
in the western Pacific.


CNES joins SkyBridge
The French space agency CNES (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales) has signed
an agreement to join the SkyBridge partnership, led by France's Alcatel.
Based on a constellation of 64 low-earth orbiting (LEO) satellites,
SkyBridge says it will deliver global connectivity to business and
residential users with a performance similar to future terrestrial broadband
technologies (downstream speeds of up to 60 Mbps, with up to 2 Mbps on the
return link.)
Other members of the SkyBridge partnership include Loral Space &
Communication, Toshiba, Mitsubishi Electric, Sharp, and SPAR. The system is
expected to offers services in 2001 through local telecom operators and
service providers.
CNES is responsible for developing the French space activities. Its role is
to propose a space policy to the French government, and in conjunction with
its partners in industry, research and defence, to carry out the the
programs decided upon.
Related Links
SkyBridge <http://www.skybridgesatellite.com/>
Top
USELESS FACT: It is illegal to play tennis in the streets of Cambridge.

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BUSINESS
Award for Ariancespace Finance
Satellite manufacturers often offer turn-key solutions that include not only
launch services but also financing.
For example, Space Systems/Loral claims in an ad that "we're skilled in
arranging insurance, innovative payment schedules, and financing [...] this
can even include equity participation."
So, why shouldn't launch providers learn from that? No, they don't offer
satellites yet (nice thought, though!) but at least some financing.
Arianespace Finance, the finance company set up by the Arianespace group,
now even received the "IFR European Structured Loan of the Year" award.
Arianespace Finance was founded in July 1996, and has already provided two
customer loans using the structure that earned this award: for the U.S.
satellite radio broadcasting company, CD Radio, Inc., and the recently
privatised Mexican satellite system SatMex.
"Awarded by the financial community, this prize underscores the commercial
advantages and innovative character of the solution developed to meet the
needs of our customers," said Brigitte Vienne, Chief Operating Officer of
Arianespace Finance.
Top
USELESS FACT: Grapes explode when you put them in the microwave. [Not just
grapes, by the way.]


Seagram has one more sip of Universal
Japan's Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. ("Panasonic" etc.) has reduced
its interest in U.S. entertainment company Universal Studios from 20 to
16.1%.
Matsushita purchased Universal for US$6.1 billion in 1990. It sold an 80%
stake to Seagram for US$5.7 billion in 1995 when the venture turned out to
be less profitable than expected.
The recent reduction is a result of Matsushita refraining from acquiring new
shares issued late last year. Universal issued the new shares to raise
capital in order to increase its stake in U.S. cable and satellite broadcast
channel provider USA Network. The shares were instead purchased by Seagram
Co., boosting the Canadian beverage company's stake in Universal to 83.9%
from 80.0%.
Top
USELESS FACT: Mother cats teach their kittens to use the litter box.


AsiaSat undervalued?
The South China Morning Post today complained about investors which in the
paper's view had "over-reacted to the loss of AsiaSat's third satellite."
As a matter of fact, the satellite operator's shares have dropped 42% since
AsiaSat 3 failed to reach its transfer orbit owing to a failure of an
accelerator block aboard the Proton launch vehicle and closed HK$9.60
yesterday.
The paper quoted brokerage Jardine Fleming as saying that a fair value would
be something like HK$17.50, but obviously investors do not agree even though
the satellite was fully insured, a replacement will be up within 15 month's
time, and AsiaSat 1 (which AsiaSat 3 was going to replace) is still working
anyway.
Yes, it's unfair, but then again, there's this strange crisis in Asia
anyway... and that's were we have to leave it.
Top
USELESS FACT: City with the most Rolls Royce's per capita: Hong Kong.

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DIGITAL
Galaxy takes stake in Spanish digital TV
The shareholders of Spanish digitial DTH service Via Digital approved the
sale of a 6.9 percent stake to Galaxy Latin America, provider of the DrecTV
service in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The GLA partners will have the possibility to increase their stake to 17
percent, Galaxy said in a press release. Jose Antonio Rios, president and
CEO of Galaxy Latin America and Robert Apple, vice president of Galaxy Latin
America will join the Board of Directors of Via Digital.
The agreement will allow for the exchange of new Spanish channels in Latin
America and Spain. It will also allow for joint efforts in the new
technologies and services currently being developed, such as network, data
and interactive services.
Galaxy Latin America is available in twelve countries in Latin America and
the Caribbean, representing 75 percent of the potential market. Later this
year, the company expects to reach a coverage of more than 95 percent with
the launch of service in Argentina and the rest of the countries in the
region.
Via Digital, whose principal shareholder is Telefonica, launched its
satellite television service in Spain on September 15, 1997. Three months
after its launch, the service had acquired 200,000 subscribers. Currently,
the service offers 77 video channels, 30 audio and 15 radio stations.
Top
USELESS FACT: Spain literally means 'the land of rabbits.'


Modern Times
International film and television library, Parasol Group announced plans to
launch ten digital TV channels and float on the stock market for nearly 25
million by April.
The company, which will set up base in London and create up to 32 jobs, said
it would broadcast coverage such as Applause, a 1950's movies channel, and
Edge Television, described as a taste of the 21st century with short shows
and films. Parasol will go on-line in 1999 following the launch of digital
TV in Britain.
Looks like there are some real exciting times ahead (1950's movies), we'll
just have to wait and see.
Frank Kearney
Top
USELESS FACT: In the 1950's the hula hoop was banned in Tokyo due to the
large number of traffic accidents it caused.


Crumbling monopolies
Yet another digital TV deal seems to crumble in Germany as regulators oppose
the monopoly it would create.
The country's two dominating players, Bertelsmann and Kirch, agreed upon a
common digital platform and even want to merge their rivalling services. The
deal is subject to regulatory approval by the EU commission which hasn't
come to a conclusion yet but is widely expected to scrutinise the deal even
further, indicating that there may indeed be something wrong with it.
The German cartel office, however, has meanwhile made it clear that the
proposed linkup would dominate the market and should be blocked. Kirch and
Bertelsmann "are not primarily interested in the introduction of digital TV
but in boosting and securing their monopoly position for profit reasons,"
the office said in a statement. Which is true, of course: they already
dominate the free-to-air TV market, cashing in 90% of German TV
advertisement revenues.
However, the German cartel office may only comment; it's up to Brussels to
decide because such a deal would have implications all over Europe  both
Kirch and Bertelsmann do not only operate in Germany.
Nothing has been decided yet, but reports say Bertelsmann may have
contingency plans in case the deal falls through. The Süddeutsche Zeitung
reported Bertelsmann may back out should Brussels kill the digital monopoly.
Of course, Bertelsmann officials denied any such options, but on the other
hand: where there's no regulatory approval, there's no deal and no alliance
anyway.
Top
USELESS FACT: About a quarter of the people bitten by dogs seem to be bitten
by German Shepherd dogs.

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ONLINE
Asymmetric Australian Internet
Canada's Teleglobe and Australia's largest telecommunications carrier,
Telstra Corporation, announced a "technological breakthrough" in providing
high-speed international Internet connectivity via the world's first 45
megabit-per-second hybrid cable/ satellite asymmetric link.
The connection uses Telstra's existing transoceanic cable capacity for the
inbound link to the United States and a 45 Mbps simplex satellite link via
an Intelsat satellite for the return link to Australia.
The simplex satellite solution is significant because it lets carriers use
capacity more efficiently and economically, Teleglobe noted in a statement.
Internet traffic the world over has always presented a costly dilemma for
carriers outside of the United States since they usually must purchase
two-way (duplex) submarine cable circuits that have the same bandwidth on
both the outbound and inbound directions.
This is not a good idea, because Internet traffic is typically asymmetric;
i.e. the data stream of a Web user's query or request to view a page (most
often into the U.S., where the majority of Internet hosts are located) is
almost always much smaller than the return data stream from the Web site. As
a result, many carriers incur unnecessary cost in handling Internet traffic
because a significant share of the fibre-optic circuit capacity inbound to
the United States is underutilised.
The simplex satellite link Teleglobe designed with Telstra uses a high-
bandwidth simplex satellite circuit combined with existing duplex submarine
cable circuits to provide a hybrid asymmetric link to the United States for
Internet access. This arrangement substantially reduces overall transmission
costs and effectively leverages the availability of satellite capacity,
while cutting in half the delay associated with an all-satellite-based
connection.
Top
USELESS FACT: The Australian emu holds the land speed record for birds at 31
mph.

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FEEDBACK  Sat-ND, 15.1.98
Buffalo Mozzarella
One of the recent USELESS FACTS read: "The mozzarella originally used in
Italy for pizza, was made from the milk of the water buffalo." Oh boy!
Vittorio Ripa di Meana wrote:
"The use of the past in this USELESS FACT is absolutely wrong!!! Mozzarella
cheese is still made of buffalo milk, at least the original one which comes
from the area between Rome and Naples. Only in recent years, the industry
has come out with mozzarella made from cow milk: but that's not the same
thing!
"Even here in France (where I live now) I can easily find a real mozzarella
at any Carrefour or Intermarche supermarket and almost any Sainsbury's
supermarket in London has got it too.
"Try it: you won't be disappointed!"
Top
USELESS FACT: The most common name in Italy is Mario Rossi.





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Copyright 1998 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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