Sat-ND, 22.2.98

Sat-ND, 22.2.98

Sat-ND, 22.02.1998 -- Er, well... er?!

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Today's Headlines

There's a first time for everything
More Chinese satellite launches
Eurasiasat orders bird
War games

CLT-UFA reduces financial exposure to digital TV

CLT-UFA invests in analogue TV


There's a first time for everything

Japan's space program was dealt a setback by the failure of its home-grown H2 rocket. It was the first time the launcher, developed entirely with domestic technology, had failed.

"We do not know at the moment where the satellite is or what will happen to it," was one of the first statements by officials from the National Space Development Agency (NASDA) of Japan. Saturday's launch looked perfect but in fact it wasn't: The second stage of the H2 shut down after 44 seconds -- it should have been 192 seconds. The payload, the experimental Comets satellite (a.k.a. Kakehashi [bridge]) was left in a rather useless orbit of 250 x 1901 kilometres.

There's no chance to transfer it to geostationary orbit from there. However, and that's why I wrote "rather useless," NASDA thinks that the satellite can be shifted to an orbit of 25,000 kilometres by firing its onboard thruster. That way, at least some of the planned experiments could still be conducted. There will be significantly less time left for them, as the satellite does not appear to at a fixed spot in the sky. Instead, researchers will have to wait until Comets passes Japan. The satellite's lifetime, which apparently is designed to work only three years, will be shortened by the transfer manoeuvre as well.

Comets was to have performed tests related to inter-orbital and mobile communications and the upgrading of geostationary satellites. Planned experiments include transmission of video-phone signals and trying out Internet connections using mobile Telecommunication equipment. The satellite cost US$366 million, the rocket launch about US$180 million.

The reason for the failure is still unknown. Japanese experts were eagerly awaiting data being sent from an observatory in Kiribati's Christmas island to Tanegashima Space Centre. A NASDA spokeswoman said that the data "is sent via facsimile and it will take time to conclude the diagnosis."

Kyodo news service quoted NASDA Science and Technology Agency chief Sadakazu Tanigaki as saying he took the H2 failure seriously. "It's a big shock because a series of H-2 rocket launches had been near perfect to date. I believe it is my responsibility to shed light on the cause of the failure in order to learn a lesson for the next launch," he said.

The launch had been delayed for a day owing to bad weather. As reported (Sat-ND, 20.2.98,) the original launch date was in last August. The flight was postponed to check the satellite's solar arrays after a malfunction of similar arrays occurred on the Adeos/Midori satellite. At least the reason for that failure is known by now: the solar arrays were not sufficiently heat-resistant.

Japan's ambitions to enter the commercial launch services market may also suffer a blow: the H2-A, a competitively-priced version of the H2, is currently under development and expected to be available by 2000. This date could be set back, and the same applies to the two planned commercial H2 launches next year.

Press review

"Despite the fact that 68.5 billion yen was wasted, NASDA officials were calm. The science and technology agency and NASDA repeated the same old comment that 'we will do our best in probing the cause of failure'."

Tokyo Shimbun

"[The launch failure] significantly damages reliability of Japan's rocket technology and has a great impact on the nation's overall space development programme."

Asahi Shimbun

"Japan now faces difficult problems when it has finally grown to rival Europe, the United States and Russia in space development."

Yomiuri Shimbun


USELESS FACT: The H-2 launch was the second under a new agreement reached last June with local fishermen to extend the launch period. Previously, launches had been allowed for a total of 90 days in summer and winter.

More Chinese satellite launches

China plans to launch ten satellites by the end of the century, Xinhua news agency reported.

This year should see the launch of a Sino-Brazilian satellite to monitor the earth's resources, it quoted Chinese Academy of Space Technology director Xu Fuxiang as saying. He added that the improved Dongfanghong (DFH) 4 communications satellite is nearing completion.

During its 30 years of space activities (Sat-ND, 20.2.98,) China has launched some 40 satellites. Xinhua did not note how many attempts it took to get 'em all up, and how many satellites were not successfully launched. The country's attempts to get a slice of the commercial satellite launch market were accompanied by five launch failures in the past four years.


SNEEZING USELESS FACT: Did you know that January 13, 1881 was not a Friday (rather a Tuesday). So, why is always said that Friday 13th is the unlucky day? [Jean-Paul Moreaux]


Eurasiasat orders bird

Sat-ND reported last September (18./19.9.97) that the Turk Telecom-led Eurasiasat company of Monaco expected to sign a contract by October with Paris-based Aerospatiale for the construction of a direct-broadcast television satellite to beam programming to Turkish-speaking populations in Europe and the Mid-East.

That was a bit premature I guess ;-) but here's the official confirmation. Aerospatiale said in a press release it has received a new order for a Telecommunications satellite, Eurasiasat-1,(Türksat 2A) from Eurasiasat.

After the successful Türksat program, for which Aerospatiale delivered two Telecommunications satellites to Turk Telecom in October 1994 and September 1996, and two ground control stations near Ankara, Turk Telecom decided to form a joint subsidiary with Aerospatiale for the exploitation of satellites. This company called Eurasiasat, of which Turk Telecom has 51% of the capital and Aerospatiale 49%, has just ordered its first Telecommunications satellite for services in Turkey Europe and Asia.

Eurasiasat-1 is a very powerful satellite using the most modern version of the three-axis stabilised Spacebus 3000 platform. Its launch mass will be nearly 3400 kg, and the available power at end of life will be close to 9 kilowatts. It will have a payload of 32 high power channels (110 watts each) in the Ku-band.

Co-located with Türksat 1-C at 42° E, it will provide television, telephony and video data services for a 15 year period in two fixed coverage zones from Europe to Asia, and over two mobile coverage zones covering Eastern Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, ensuring maximum operational flexibility.

The contract also covers the upgrading of the ground control station in Golbasi in Turkey, and the training of the Turkish operators for the new satellite. Delivery of the system is planned for the beginning of the year 2000.

This is the fifth order that Aerospatiale has received for satellites in less than four months after Eutelsat W4, Hispasat 1-C, Astra 1K, and one other Spacebus for an international customer. It is the 32nd order for a Spacebus.


USELESS FACT: In an atom, the electron weighs 1/2000th of the weight of the proton.


War games

The planned U.S. war against Iraq, which I prefer to call an unprecedented act of international terrorism, goes ahead on schedule: U.S. TV networks have begun practising the bombardment of the country.

A technician at a local U.S. TV station reportedly was stunned when he was checking satellite transmissions last Friday and found CBS anchor Dan Rather describing a bombing run on Baghdad. A CBS spokeswoman said the transmission was mistakenly uplinked to a satellite for 20 minutes.

She cited testing "new graphics" and a fibre-optic link as reasons for the test. CBS received "a handful" of phone calls from people confused by the transmission, she added.

Related Links
Iraq <http://www.web.net/~gccwat/iraq/>
Iraq Crisis Antiwar Homepage <http://www.nonviolence.org/campaigns/iraq.htm >
Iraq Action Coalition <http://leb.net/IAC/>


USELESS FACT: There are three times as many private policemen in the USA as public ones.


CLT-UFA reduces financial exposure to digital TV

CLT-UFA has, as expected, quit French digital satellite television joint-venture TPS.

In a statement by the three companies involved, French holding group Suez-Lyonnaise des Eaux said it and M6-Metropole Television were buying a 20 percent stake held by CLT-UFA in TPS for 395 million francs. The price included a 25 percent discount because it involved a minority stake and also took into account 550 million francs in debts at TPS.

CLT-UFA, which holds a 39.9 percent stake in M6, will cash in Lfr2.2 billion from the deal. A company spokeswoman said the sale was aimed at "reducing our financial exposure to digital satellite television." She added that CLT-UFA definitely did not have any plans to engage in another digital satellite project.

After the transaction, TPS will be owned in four equal 25 percent stakes by private broadcaster Television Francaise 1 (TF1,) Suez-Lyonnaise des Eaux, M6 and France Television Entreprises (TPE).


USELESS FACT: Before 1800 there were no separately designed shoes for right and left feet.

CLT-UFA invests in analogue TV

CLT-UFA also looks poised to sell its interests in four British radio stations, the Independent on Sunday reported.

The paper said CLT-UFA wants to sell its 62.1 percent stake in Talk Radio, its 15 percent stake in XFM, the 80 percent share it owns in Atlantic 252 and its wholly-owned RTL Country. The Luxembourg-based company's stakes in the four stations were believed to be worth about 60 million pounds ($98.1 million).

The paper said the company wanted to use the money to maintain its share of [analogue, terrestrial] Channel 5 as the British TV company's capital base expanded.


USELESS FACT: After snails mate, they both lay eggs.

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

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