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A launch date has been set for LMI 1, the first satellite of Lockheed Martin Intersputnik Ltd, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin Corporation and the Intersputnik International Organisation of Space Communications.
The launch is to take place in the latter half of December, 1998 aboard a Proton rocket provided by International Launch Services (ILS,) a Russian-U.S. joint venture. LMI 1 will be launched on a Proton vehicle by ILS International Launch Services and will be located at 75 degrees east. [This, by the way, adds just little details to what you could already read in Sat-ND, 2.6.97.] A second satellite launch is planned for 1999 and two subsequent launches are planned for 2000 and 2001.
LMI 1, a Lockheed Martin A2100 model, will provide communications capacity to all of the Commonwealth of Independent States, in addition to Eastern Europe, South Asia, and Africa. This satellite features 44 high-powered transponders in C and Ku band frequencies with a designated 15-year service life.
Initially, LMI-1 will provide broadcasting and telecommunications transmission capacity, VSAT, and video and data distribution to underserved areas and will expand to provide a full range of services including direct-to-home TV, direct radio, and mobile communications on a global scale.
Intersputnik's part in this venture is more or less to provide 15 orbital slots for the LMI satellites and business contacts. Lockheed Martin Intersputnik, Ltd. is headquartered in London with a marketing office in Moscow.
Intersputnik is an international intergovernmental organisation which operates a satellite communication system and provides international, regional and domestic communications around the world. The Organisation was established over 25 years ago and has 22 member countries, mostly from the former Eastern bloc.
Useless fact: There is an Ides in every month, not just March.
China will launch a weather satellite in October to replace two other satellites which have stopped functioning, the China Daily reported.
The Fengyun-1 type satellite will be placed in a solar-synchronous orbit. An official of China's National Meteorological Satellite Centre was quoted as saying it would be the country's fourth launch of a weather satellite. He added that China would provide free access to satellite weather data to all countries.
[If I'm not completely mistaken, Australia uses data supplied by a Fengyun-2 type satellite launched last year into a geosynchronous orbit. The next Fengyun-2 launch is slated before 2000.]
Useless fact: foooooo
The Landsat-7 Earth science spacecraft will not be launched in July 1998 as planned, due to necessary changes in the design of the electrical power supply hardware for the spacecraft's main instrument, NASA said in a statement.
During a series of instrument-level thermal vacuum tests beginning in December 1997, a power supply on the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) instrument failed twice. ETM+ is Landsat-7's only science instrument. As a result of the most recent failure in January, both internally redundant power supplies were returned to their manufacturer, Raytheon (formerly Hughes) Santa Barbara Remote Sensing. Completion of vacuum testing will be delayed while the power supplies are being repaired, which will consequently delay the launch.
A new target launch date will be set by NASA officials after completion of instrument thermal vacuum tests scheduled for this July. According to NASA project managers, it is not possible to set a precise new date for the launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA, at this time. NASA said it will work with its launch contractor, Boeing, on moving the Landsat-7 launch to a mutually agreeable date.
Useless fact: It was the left shoe that Aschenputtel (Cinderella) lost at the stairway, when the prince tried to follow her.
Quite obviously, Astra 1D and Eutelsat's Hotbird 4 are around 28-29 degrees East currently. Will there be a shoot-out to determine whether Astra operator SES or Eutelsat have to right to position satellites there?
No. Eutelsat's move is just a bluff [although it seems quite likely that SES fell for it as it has moved their Astra 1D there without any real need.] Eutelsat director Jean Grenier has claimed the slot for his organisation and even announced it would be used for DBS services targeting the UK and Germany. This more or less the same what SES plans, except that they target only the UK. It was earlier supposed that Eutelsat and SES had settled their dispute by simply using different frequency bands from that position, but seems to be not the case.
One reason for that may be that the planned Astra satellites at 28.2 degrees East would also provide replacement capacity for Deutsche Telekom's DFS 2, currently at 28.5 degrees, in the FSS band. Grenier: "History is marked by attempts to control a market, but these always fail." Of course, there's some delicacy in the fact that Deutsche Telekom is a shareholder both in Eutelsat and SES.
On the other hand, the whole issue isn't as urgent as recent reports (including some in this so-called newsletter) may have suggested. Grenier also said that setting up any Eutelsat business around 29 degrees East would take some time, and predicted that any launch to that purpose would not happen before 2000.
Obviously unable to come up with any better idea, Eutelsat has labelled its DBS plans at 29 degrees "Europesat." Apart from a Eutelsat promo video, Eurosport reportedly is re-broadcast on Hotbird 4 from around 29 degrees with the following scrawl: "Transmission of EuroSport over the Europesat-I system of the Eutelsat satellite network."
Of course, there is no such thing up there as a Europesat satellite, and if it were ordered today, it would indeed hardly be launched before 2000. As mentioned earlier (Sat-ND, 3.3.98,) Europesat was some years or even centuries ago planned as a follow-up to the ill-fated DBS satellites of the first generation.
Useless fact: The vaccine for smallpox was developed in 1798. Hey, that's exactly 200 years ago!
U.S. vice president Al Gore, who probably wants to succeed his boss, once again tried to present himself as high-tech aficionado, Internet buff and environmentalist.
He has instructed NASA to put a satellite in space that would broadcast live video pictures of the Earth 24 hours a day on the Internet and television outlets. Of course, this is not exactly a large-scale project -- with US$20 million to US$50 million, it would be a rather cheap satellite. Nonetheless, the U.S. congress would have to approve money for the project, and Gore was expected to open consultations with lawmakers.
"This is the vice president's brainchild and he's very excited about it," Gore's communications director, Lawrence Haas, was quoted as saying.
However, what that project is really all about is more than unclear as available news reports contain sheer nonsense such as "From a stationary orbit 1 million [sic!] miles away in space, the satellite's high-definition, colour camera would provide the first-ever continuous pictures of a sunlit Earth against the blackness of space." From a 1,600,000 km orbit... no, rather not.
The moon currently is some 400,000 km away. In case they mean a geostationary orbit, that's just 36,000 km high. If GoreSat were to be geostationary, it would not be able to show the Earth as a whole but only half of it at best, as the term "geostationary" subtly implies.
Gore, however, believes that the project "will have the same impact that the first images of Earth that came back from Apollo 8 had in shaping peoples' understanding that we all share a very fragile Earth and that we need to care for it."
No disagreement on that.
Useless fact: The United States, which accounts for six per cent of the population of the world, consumes nearly sixty per cent of the world's resources. [Change that, Mr Gore!]
Well, too bad. Asteroid 1997 XF11 will not hit the Earth in 2028, NASA said after recalculating the object's trajectory.
Of course, the bad thing about it is not that the Asteroid will fly by. The bad thing is that we had just one fun-packed day with tabloids' and this so-called newsletter's gloomy speculations, press releases from Star Wars fans, and commercial companies who want to land on asteroids.
NASA now said that the killer asteroid will pass the Earth at a distance of a million kilometers, making the chance of an impact zero. It was not a miscalculation, by the way, but mysteriously some older data appeared that helped make the prediction more exact.
But then again, 24 hours of the asteroid craze were sufficient to produce more loony bits than in the last 24 months.
John F. Walvoord, chancellor of the Dallas Theological Seminary and a self-described believer in the literal prophesy of the Bible, said Asteroid 1997 XF11 "may be a foreshadowing of the second-coming of Christ." [Jeez, the second coming of Christ, wow. What a stud ;-]
Edward Teller, the father of the U.S. hydrogen bomb, advocated putting a nuclear bomb on a rocket and detonating it near the asteroid to throw it off course [just as I predicted yesterday: those stone-age guys haven't had any new idea in the past 50 years.]
Republican Dana Rohrabacher, Chairman of the Space & Aeronautics Subcommittee of the House Science Committee, complained that the Clinton administration has scrapped some parts of Ronald McDonald's Star Wars programme: "What people don't know is that the U.S. Air Force actually had a test version of an [asteroid] interceptor in development until this year." In light of this news, she called "upon the President to restore funding to this important program."
Finally, a San Diego-based company plans to send a spacecraft to a near-earth asteroid to collect scientific data about its density and composition and to place a radio beacon on it. SpaceDev officials said the mission, which is set for 2000, will be the first commercial opportunity for scientists to fly their experiments and instruments on an asteroid. SpaceDev CEO Jim Benson said the tracking data would be extremely valuable in accurately predicting potential collisions, like the one believed possible in 2028 with asteroid 1997 XF11.
Hmm... like the one formerly believed possible, that is. Too bad that scientists have spoilt the party by correcting their predictions so soon. I really would have liked to have that asteroid mill going on for a month or even a year.
Useless fact: The power of the first hydrogen bomb tested in 1952 was equal to the combined power of all the bombs dropped on Germany and Japan in World War Two -- including the atomic ones.
Jean-Marie Messier, chairman of French conglomerate Compagnie Generale des Eaux (CGE) said that a merger between French digital satellite television services TPS and CanalSatellite will not happen because it is being blocked by TPS shareholder France Telecom, reported Le Monde.
"It is a pity because this situation is playing into the hands of the American programme industry," the newspaper quoted Messier as saying. "As long as France Telecom has a share in TPS, this operation cannot be done," he added.
He warned that the longer the rival digital satellite services exist separately, the harder it will be to bring them together because they will have made incompatible technological choices which are costly to reverse.
Generale des Eaux will own 34 percent of CanalSatellite's parent French pay television group Canal Plus once CGE's merger with communication company Havas, announced earlier this week, goes through. TPS (Television par Satellite) is owned 25 percent each by Suez-Lyonnaise des Eaux, M6-Metropole Television, TF1 and France Television Enterprises, a combination of state-owned France Television and France Telecom.
However, any TPS shareholder can block major decisions such as a merger.
Useless fact: The shortest French word with all five vowels is "oiseau" meaning bird.
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