You'll feel much better when you unsubscribe right now!
It seems the Russian Khrunichev Space Centre is not quite satisfied with the performance of the DM-4 accelerator delivered by its subcontractor Energiya. Itar-Tass reported that Khrunichev is working on an own booster dubbed Briz-M.
The news agency noted that the DM-4 block, acting as a 'fourth stage' on Proton rockets, had failed for three times in the last two years -- most spectacularly when the Russian probe Mars 96 was launched. A DM-4 failure was also the reason for Asiasat 3 not reaching its geostationary transfer orbit.
Under the terms of the launch contract, Khrunichev has to launch the replacement satellite Asiasat 3S within one year's time. Briz-M will be finished later this year but "more time will be needed, however, to make it absolutely ready for use," noted Itar-Tass. The Asiasat 3S launch is expected for the first quarter of 1999 (Sat-ND, 8.3.98.)
"The cause of the December setback has been identified. The recording of the Proton's flight parameters indicates that the rocket is a very reliable booster. We are confident that Proton specialists will do everything necessary to ensure a successful launch," said Peter Jackson, Executive Director of the Hong Kong-based satellite operator AST.
Useless fact: Gorillas often sleep for up to fourteen hours a day.
The U.S. Navy's eighth UHF Follow-On (UFO) communications satellite is scheduled for launch March 16th from launch pad 36A at Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida.
Hughes Space and Communications Company in El Segundo, Calif., built the satellite for the U.S. Navy and will launch it on a Lockheed Martin Atlas II launch vehicle [weather permitting.]
The UHF Follow-On satellite system provides global communications for the U.S. Department of Defense through satellites in geosynchronous orbit. UFO was developed to replace the Fleet Communications Satellite (FLTSAT) and Leased Communications Satellite (LEASAT) assets as they reach the end of their useful lives. The UHF Follow-On constellation will consist of eight satellites that will provide communications over the USA, the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans and one on-orbit spare.
UHF Follow-On satellite F8 will be the first of these spacecraft with the Global Broadcast Service (GBS) communications system. Global Broadcast Service provides a means for rapidly disseminating large quantities of information to small, mobile users. The GBS payload will provide four 24 Mbps Ka-band transponders, three steerable downlink spot beams, and one steerable and one fixed uplink receive antenna. After on-orbit testing is completed, UFO F8 will be moved to its operational location over the Pacific Ocean at 172 degrees East. The UHF Follow-On satellites F9 and F10, which will also have the GBS system, will follow in the next year, completing the UHF Follow-On coverage of GBS services.
The Navy communications satellite will be launched by Lockheed Martin Astronautics in cooperation with the Air Force Space Command's 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. The 45th Space Wing operates the Eastern Range -- playing a vital role in all launches by providing essential and critical range, ground and mission support.
Useless fact: Alexander the Great is the only argument people ever need to make in support of gays in the military.
Several news agencies reported that the United States may allow Russia to launch more foreign commercial satellites to raise millions of dollars for its cash-strapped space agency.
Monica... no, Paula... no, a Clinton administration official was quoted as saying such launches could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Russian firms and their foreign partners. Uncle Sam, however, expects those Russians to "crack down" on the sale of missile technology to Iran.
So, can the U.S. control commercial satellite launches from Russia? Yes, unfortunately. I had some details about that in some ancient Sat-ND I just can't find right now. There was an agreement in 1996, however, that had Russia limit the number of commercial launches of foreign (not just U.S.!) satellites in order to protect U.S. companies.
Thing is, of course, that U.S. companies such as Lockheed and Boeing have meanwhile set up joint ventures with Russian companies in the launch business (ILS, SeaLaunch.) Besides, 18 of the 48 satellite launched by Russia last year were for U.S. firms, each launch worth US$60 million to 100 million.
The Russian Space Agency meanwhile still has trouble paying its bills, which also seems to be a main cause for the delay in completing the US$21-billion international space station.
Useless fact: Amount of money the U.S. government spent on paper shredders in 1989 : US$7 million.
Washington has blocked a deal between U.S. and Israeli defence firms for joint launches of a commercial rocket because it could help Israel's nuclear weapons program.
[It seems Iraq is not the only country in that region that has and/or develops mass destruction weapons. But rest assured that especially the U.S. of A. have more than enough of those extremely nasty gadgets ready for use anywhere, anytime.] According to Haaretz newspaper, the U.S. government refused to approve an agreement between a U.S. firm and Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) which would have permitted 'test' launches from U.S. soil of Israel's Shavit rocket.
Those test launches do have a solid commercial background, though. While Israel may have a rocket that can be used for commercial launches, it does not have a proper launch site. For obvious reasons, the country cannot launch the Shavit eastwards as it would cross Arab airspace. Launching it westwards is possible, but as the Earth turns eastwards [I guess :-] it's not that efficient and thus more costly.
The problems with the Shavit are twofold:
Israel is not a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty;
Israel could use test launches of the Shavit to improve the performance of its similar Jericho missile, on which Israel has reportedly mounted nuclear warheads.
Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) officials were quoted as saying they were unaware of any U.S. government attempt to block the deal which involved the U.S. firm Colleman Research Company (CRC). A memorandum of understanding had already been signed involving the joint production of a launcher based on the Shavit capable of putting "lightweight satellites" into orbit.
Any rocket to be fired from U.S. soil has to have at least 51 percent of its components manufactured in the United States, an IAI spokesman said.
In related news, the Arab League announced that a meeting of foreign ministers in Cairo later this month would discuss "security dangers" posed by Israeli satellites. The issue was placed on the agenda at the request of Iraq. There were no details available about the satellites concerned, especially as Israel failed to launch its latest spy satellite, Ofek 4 (Sat-ND, 23.1.98.)
Useless fact: Glue on Israeli postage stamps is certified kosher.
Asia Satellite Telecommunications Holdings Ltd. said economic uncertainty in Asia had hit transponder capacity demand, but the company was still expecting growth.
"The economic downturn experienced in Asia in the second half of 1997 resulted in reduced demand for transponder capacity for new projects and has slowed the expansion of existing operations," Group chairman Linus Cheung was quoted as saying.
"With long-term contracts for transponder capacity secured on our in-orbit satellites, and with the launch of the new satellite, AsiaSat is well positioned to achieve long-term growth," he added.
AsiaSat posted a net profit of HK$576.7 million (US$74.5 million) for the year to December, up 46.1 percent from a year earlier. AsiaSat's main shareholders are Beijing-backed CITIC Pacific Ltd., Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. and Cable and Wireless plc of Britain. [It's not just Keith Rupert Murdoch who sees China as an important market.]
Useless fact: One ad for Pepsi used in China, "Come alive with Pepsi," actually translated to "Pepsi brings your ancestors back to life."
Hughes Space and Communications International Inc. gave some details about Asiasat 3S in a press release.
The new satellite, to be designated AsiaSat 3S, is an exact replica of AsiaSat 3. It will be designed to provide a minimum of 15 years of service.
The new HS 601HP satellite will feature 9,900 watts of power and will increase AsiaSat's capacity to distribute television and telecommunications services to Asia, the Middle East, Australasia and the Commonwealth of Independent States. The satellite will carry 28 active C-band transponders, using 55-watt travelling-wave tube amplifiers (TWTAs), and 16 active Ku-band transponders using 138-watt TWTAs.
Just as in AsiaSat 3, these transponders will operate through two 2.7-meter shaped surface antennas. One antenna, mounted on the east side of the satellite and operating in the C-band, will provide broad-band coverage for Asia and Australasia. The west-side antenna will operate in the Ku-band and provide focused area coverage for East Asia.
A 1.3-meter, dual-gridded shaped surface antenna, operating in Ku-band, will provide focused area coverage for South Asia. In addition, a 1-meter Ku-band steerable spot-beam antenna will allow AsiaSat 3S to directly cover any area on the Earth's surface that is visible from the spacecraft's orbital location at 105.5 degrees East.
Useless fact: One of the greatest natural disasters of recent centuries occurred when an earthquake hit Tangshan, China killing three quarters of a million people.
Okay, here are more gory details about satellites from press releases. Meet GE-5, to be launched at the end of this year aboard an Ariane rocket (Sat-ND, 4.3.98.)
To help customers efficiently utilise GE-5, the satellite's 16 Ku-band transponders were designed to have a 54 MHz bandwidth. This allows SNG or other users to simultaneously carry two analogue signals on the same transponder. GE-5 users can also carry a mix of analogue and digital signals at the same time.
To insure satellite transponder availability during peak demand periods, a dedicated pool of occasional GE-5 transponders will be available to customers. Further, user access time to the satellite will be minimised by GE Americom's 24-hour booking centre GE-5 will provide the SkySwitch SNG service which allows customers simultaneous voice and video communications with their SNG vehicles.
GE-5 will meet the satellite news gathering needs of television broadcasters as well as the wideband data applications of business users. It will allow a wide range of commercial customers to expand their business television communications and to distribute their wideband data services.
Useless fact: The words "assassination"and "bump" were invented by Shakespeare.
French utilities giant Generale des Eaux will take over France's oldest media group Havas, which will completely disappear after 166 years of company history.
Havas' origins date back to 1832 when publisher Charles-Louis Havas launched a specialist service for newspapers.
The deal will give Generale control of an extensive publishing empire and clear the way for it to build a strong communications division around its Cegetel telecommunications group and television group Canal Plus, in which Havas has a 34 percent stake.
Havas is [was?] France's 30th biggest company by market capitalisation. Its core businesses include its 34 percent stake in pay television and digital satellite broadcaster Canal Plus, and stakes in Luxembourg-based television group CLT-UFA.
This may not be the end of Generale des Eaux' aggressive stragegy: reportedly, there are already rumours about a link between Canal Plus and CLT-Ufa. Company chairman Jean-Marie Messier is said to have excellent contacts to the new head of German publishing empire Bertelsmann, Thomas Middelhoff as well as to Belgian businessman Albert Frere. Bertelsmann and Frere have important stakes in CLT-Ufa.
Useless fact: The word denim comes from 'de Nimes', or from Nimes, a place in France.
Satellite broadcasting operators PerfecTV Corp. and Japan Sky Broadcasting Co. (JSkyB) will merge on an equal basis May 1 to provide programmes on some 140, 160 or 200 satellite channels [depends on the source you believe in] offered under the name of "SkyPerfecTV," reported news agency Kyodo.
PerfecTV, the first digital satellite broadcaster in Japan, will be the remaining company in the merger. It is owned mainly by big trading companies such as Itochu Corp. and Sumitomo Corp. The merged company, called Japan Digital Broadcasting Services, will be capitalised at ¥40 billion .
JSkyB, part of the global conglomerate run by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, planned to begin broadcasting services on a trial basis in April. Its major shareholders are Murdoch's News Corp., Softbank Corp., Sony Corp. and Fuji Television Network Inc.
There's a technical problem, though: subscribers to PerfecTV can access only the existing 107 channels. The new service will be available in its fullness only with new receivers that will hi the shops in April. PerfecTV officials said they were considering measures to help existing subscribers to buy the new receivers.
SkyPerfecTV hopes to have one million viewers by the end of 1998. PerfectTV already has some 600,000 customers.
Koya Mita, president of PerfecTV, told a news conference that "Cut-throat competition among three service providers would do no good for the industry. ... The merger will contribute to the healthy development of the industry."
SkyPerfecTV will compete with DirecTV, partially owned by Hughes Electronics Corp. which made its debut in Japan's digital satellite service market last December.
Useless fact: In 1983, a Japanese artist made a copy of the Mona Lisa completely out of toast.
unsubscribe sat-nd email@example.com