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Recently, a reader asked me to sent a back issue of this so-called newsletter. Admittedly, I often quote references to earlier issues because I know some of you collect this stuff [I won't comment on that strange kind of behaviour ;-]
However, you can access back issues at any time by pointing your browser at http://sat-net.com/listserver/sat-nd/. Please note that this archive is neither operated nor maintained by me. There are no cross-links, for example, and neither can you search the archive for keywords. Sorry, but setting up a fully functional archive is way beyond my capabilities if it's kept to be free for all.
The Export and Import Bank of China (Eximbank) has provided launch service provider Great Wall Industry Corp. with almost US$430 million in loans.
The money would be used in in commercial satellite launches and mechanical and electrical products exports, a Great Wall official told China Daily. The loans would help enhance China's competitiveness in the world's satellite launching market, promote the country's export of machinery and electronic products, and boost trade in technology services.
According to news agency Xinhua, Eximbank is one of the country's policy-oriented banks. Established in 1994, it serves to assist the export of high-tech, high value-added products.
Great Wall also said it planned to launch another 20 Iridium satellites in coming years but gave no details. So far, the company has launched two Iridiums on a special Iridium version of its Chang Zheng (Long March) rocket and has a contract to launch two more, which will probably take place on March 18.
To my knowledge, there has been no official confirmation about a new Iridium launch contract although there were similar reports earlier (Sat-ND, 29.1.98.) Such a contract is quite likely, however, as the small Iridium version of the Chang Zheng is ideal for replacement launches that will become necessary once the 66-satellite system is operational.
Useless fact: The average person is about a quarter of an inch taller at night.
According to its director general Saad Abdel-Aziz, the Arab satellite organisation Arabsat has for the first time recorded profits in 1997.
He was quoted as saying that "We began to cover our debts in 1995 because we decided to apply commercial criteria to our operations," which led to profits of US$55 million last year. Other financial details were not available. Arabsat board members blamed the organisation's member countries for initial losses. While expected to utilise Arabsat transmission capacity, the stayed on other satellites.
Abdel-Aziz said that in March next year Arabsat will launch the first of its third generation of Ku-band satellites which carries 20 transponder, each able to carry eight TV channels using digital data reduction.
Arabsat will lease a transponder on Eutelsat's Hot Bird 4 to broadcast a bouquet of Arab networks at Europe, using a relay station in Tunisia. The Arabsat board is studying ways to further promote Arabsat services, which cover the Arab world, sub-Saharan Africa, southern Europe, and western India.
Arabsat satellites currently used by 20 member states of the Arab League, while CNN and French TV5 lease Arabsat capacity to distribute their programs across the Arab world. Arabsat, headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, was set up by the Arab League in 1976 .
Useless fact: Sahara means 'desert' in Arabic.
The European Commission said it will allow French digital TV platform Television Par Satellite (TPS), owned by Suez-Lyonnaise des Eaux and M6 Numerique etc., to carry some channels exclusively.
The commission, acting as the European Union's competition watchdog, said it would allow TPS to exclusively distribute French TV channels TF1, France 2, France 3 and M6 for the next three years with the possibility of an extension if justified.
Canal Plus, France's pay-TV company which operates the rivalling digital TV service CanalSatellite, has been critical about the arrangement. The French parliament is expected to review the issue when debating a new broadcasting bill.
Useless fact: Charles the Simple was the grandson of Charles the Bald, both were rulers of France.
Loral Space & Communications announced that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted the applications of Loral and Orion Network Systems, Inc. to transfer control of Orion to Loral.
Loral announced in October, 1997, its intention to acquire 100 percent of Orion in exchange for Loral common stock. The FCC noted in its ruling that the merger of the two companies would result in wider service offerings and lower prices for consumers. A meeting of Orion shareholders is scheduled for March 20, 1998, and, pending their approval, the transaction will close immediately thereafter.
Loral operates the Telstar satellites through its subsidiary Loral Skynet, holds a 39 percent equity interest in Globalstar, is the developer of CyberStar and recently acquired a 75 percent equity interest in the Mexican national satellite system SatMex. Orion operates Orion 1.
Useless fact: US$600,000 is the sise of the fine levied by the FCC on shock-jock Howard Stern's employer for his discussion on masturbation, erections, and homosexual sex during his radio show.
The European Telecommunications Organisation Eutelsat reportedly hasn't abandoned its claim on the orbital position 29 degrees East and wants to challenge its commercial rival, Luxembourg's SES.
The problem is that virtually the same slot will shortly be occupied by Astra 2A. While it seems to be true that Eutelsat holds the older rights (it has filed for the slot over nine years ago, earlier than Astra operator SES,) this is not necessarily an advantage. Quite obviously, there is not Eutelsat positioned at 29 degrees East. As a measure against paper satellites, such reservations become void after a certain period of time when no actual satellite has appeared at the position in question.
Eutelsat however says it has in December 1996 used the slot for regular transmissions, albeit just for a few days (Sat-ND, 6.12.96.) Back then, Hot Bird 2 had been tested at 29 degrees, and if I remember correctly, it was even airing test cards saying that these were by no means tests but "regular" transmissions, and maybe some TV channels as well. The same will undoubtedly happen with Eutelsat's Hot Bird 4 which was launched recently.
But is that enough? Tonga, for example, had faced the same problem. The solution was simple: it leased a decrepit Russian Gorizont satellite, had it relocated to the position in question, and declared it a domestic communications satellite. It would have been even simpler for Eutelsat: unlike Tonga, which of course has never had any real satellite of its own, Eutelsat owns quite a few satellites that are nearing the end of their useful life and could have served as a slot-saver.
Latest news, however, is that Eutelsat according to its chairman Jean Grenier is wildly determined to occupy 29 degrees East as soon as possible. To that purpose, the organisation has now even revived the Europesat project. Designed as a follow-up system for the ill-fated French and German direct broadcast satellites TDF and TV-Sat several years (or rather centuries) ago, the only objective result was the study of a "Pre-Europesat" satellite. Memories may deceive, and all that happened way before there was any Sat-ND, but I think that "Pre-Europesat" became Eutelsat Hot Bird 1 later. However, that satellite is located at 13 degrees East.
Interesting in this context is that Eutelsat has been offered to launch a satellite on the third test flight of Europe's Ariane 5 launcher at half the price of a usual commercial launch. Arianespace chief Jean-Marie Luton said Eutelsat still is debating whether to launch a telecommunications or direct-broadcast satellite. The flight is expected to take place next July. However, the launch of Astra 2A with the destination 28.2 degrees East is currently scheduled for May.
Useless fact: The Inca tribe in Peru created the decimal system hundreds of years before it was introduced in Europe.
What a coincidence! There is news from Tonga, the world's first satellite slot monger.
While Tonga is ruled by King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, the country's blooming satellite industry <G> was run by his daughter, Princess Pilolevu Tuita -- so far (Sat-ND, 15.3.96 -- still in German back then, I'm afraid.) There's also a Crown Prince, Tupouto'a, who is according to the weekly Times of Tonga trying to wrest exclusive rights to lease satellite slots from a company headed by his sister, the very Princess Pilolevu Tuita. Reportedly, the King does not really know what to do, while the government was trying to play the affair down.
Pilolevu holds 60 percent of the shares and is chairwoman of Tongasat, a company that has earned her US$25 million in money for absolutely nothing. Tupouto'a has reportedly asked the cabinet and the Privy Council to terminate his sister's exclusive rights, which were granted by the government. It said Tupouto'a had three American partners who were to advise the government and help in negotiations over the slots. (Not a good idea: his sister teamed up with American partners that later went bankrupt. It was then when she turned to the Russians who could in turn make some money out of otherwise useless satellites.)
Tongasat has filed an action in the Supreme Court seeking an injunction against the government in order to stop its alleged interference in Tongasat's operation. Currently it seems that both parties have agreed to go to arbitration. There are not details because the case is strictly confidential.
Useless fact: Tonga also deals with Internet
domain names. Look out for any URLs that end in
NTL has been awarded the contract to uplink the BBC's new digital satellite television broadcasts. The contract is intended to deliver the new digital services to viewers throughout the UK via the Astra 2A satellite which is due to be launched in the second quarter of 1998.
Channels are to include BBC1, BBC2, BBC News 24, national variants such as BBC Scotland and a host of new services. Fibre connections will carry feeds from the BBC TV Centre in London to NTL's satellite teleport near Winchester. From there NTL will uplink two digital multiplexes via two separate antennas for maximum back-up and reliability, providing a complete end-to-end distribution service to the world's most famous broadcaster.
NTL's first contract from the BBC commenced in November 1997 when it began uplinking BBC News 24, the new 24-hour domestic news channel, to the Orion 1 satellite for distribution to cable operators within the UK.
NTL operates more than 20 antennas of up to 13 metres in diameter from three interlinked teleports in southern England, providing a high degree of flexibility and resilience. The main site at Crawley Court near Winchester provides comprehensive satellite access for global contribution links, distribution feeds and direct-to-home broadcasting.
Useless fact: Around the turn of the century, British newspapers advertised brassieres as "patent bust improvers."
by Grandpa Zheng
"Microsoft does not have monopoly power in the business of developing and licensing computer operating systems.
"As you know, a monopolist, by definition, is a company that has the ability to restrict entry by new firms and unilaterally control price. Microsoft can do neither.
"It is preposterous to think that any one company could ever control access to the Internet.
"I can say without hesitation that it is not, nor has it ever been, the intention of my company to turn the information superhighway into a toll road."
William Henry Gates III, CEO Microsoft Corp.
Useless quote: "640K ought to be enough for anybody." -- William Henry Gates III, 1981.
Internet Week reported that "Walt Disney got an unsettling glimpse of the public Internet's limitations while demonstrating a new multicast service recently."
During one demonstration, one of the major Internet access nodes (Mae West) "went crazy," said Scott Watson, chief computer scientist at Disney. Up to half of the data packets sent out were lost at some time. "We expect thunderstorms on the Internet," Watson was quoted as saying.
Well yes of course, if Disney keeps congesting the Internet with useless stuff like that! Nosce te ipsum, as the ancient Romans would have said.
Useless fact: Walt Disney's autograph bears no resemblance to the famous Disney logo.
by Dr Sarmaz
A British unit of the German electronics group Grundig AG said its alliance with Korea's Hyundai Corp had won a "substantial" order to supply set-top boxes for British Sky Broadcasting's planned launch of digital TV channels this year.
Grundig said its set-top boxes would be available from the middle of this year to coincide with BSkyB's digital launch, set for June. All of the units, based on Hyundai's TV/COM design, will be built at Grundig's plant in south Wales. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Grundig was one of four companies commissioned by BSkyB to make a million digital set-top boxes, which viewers will have to buy to get its 200-channel digital satellite TV package. Other companies that are to supply boxes are Amstrad, Matsushita's Panasonic arm, and Pace Micro Technology Plc.
Useless fact: About 15 percent of [U.S. soldiers] wounded died in the Civil War; about 8 percent in World War I; about 4 percent in World War II; about 2 percent in the Korean War.
"Murdoch made a simple calculation when dropping Chris Patten's book: Some flak in Britain was worth suffering when there are many millions of dollars to be made in China."
Andrew Neil, a former senior editor in Murdoch's News empire
Useless fact: In Chinese, the words for crisis and opportunity are the same.
Luxury Greek horse car with extra seating space for say 6 to 8 passengers with all the bells and whistles.
Michael E. Doulakis
By the way: "Ariane 5" sounds just like Renault's latest low-budget car. So, if you have any comments about other rockets' (or satellites') names, just send 'em to me as well.
Useless fact: The French rocket Ariane 5 blew up on June 4,1996, 37 seconds into its flight.
KITComm pty of Australia is to provide a one-way asset management and tracking service, which includes a [non GPS] location service to an accuracy of 1 km. Whilst they are initially targeting the Australian market, they are keeping their options open for a world-wide service. There are to be 21 satellites with 3 on-orbit spares. They are aiming to launch in 1999. They will use the (1.5 GHz) L band for communications. The constellation will use seven 3 kg (I think this is a little bit on the light side...!) SVs in 3 orbital planes at an altitude of 2800 km with a 90 degree inclination. The antenna footprint is to be 8190 km. The satellites are being built by AeroAstro LLC of Herndon, Virginia, USA.
Useless fact: A species of earthworm in Australia grows up to 3 meters in length.
Useless fact: The Chinese ideogram for 'trouble' depicts two women living under one roof.
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