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It should have been launched tomorrow on Ariane flight 107: Spot-4, a French Earth observation satellite.
Yesterday, the French Space Agency (CNES) said in a statement that "an anomaly has been detected in the back-up electric pyrotechnic command designed to release the Pastel telescope during its launch. Pastel is one of the instruments aboard the Spot-4 satellite."
Arianespace said it had rescheduled the launch for Monday March 23 at 10.46 p.m. local time (0146 UTC Tuesday March 24.)
Spot-4 is designed for high-resolution imaging for remote sensing services and medium-resolution imaging for global environmental monitoring. Prime contractor for the 2.8-tonne satellite, designed to operate in a sun-synchronous orbit for at least five years, was France's Matra Marconi Space.
Useless fact: The word "karate" means "empty hand."
The delivery of another five Iridium satellites on Sunday, March 22, will bring the total number of operating satellites to 54 on orbit, launch contractor Boeing said in a press release.
The launch is scheduled for 10:41:54 p.m. PST, within a five-second window necessary to place the satellites into coordinated orbits with the other 49 satellites already in orbit. Sunday's Delta mission will be the second this year for the Iridium System and the eighth launch by a Boeing Delta II for Motorola, prime contractor and manufacturer of the satellite for the Iridium System. The Iridium System is scheduled to provide global, wireless telecommunications later this year.
Useless fact: In 1994, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans ate 63.7 pounds of beef per person, 49.5 pounds of pork, 48.2 pounds of chicken, 14.9 pounds of fish and shellfish, 14.3 pounds of turkey, and a meagre 0.9 pounds lamb and 0.8 pounds veal. (Aris Stathakis -- and no, I'm not going to convert pounds to kilos at this time of night [1 pound is some .45 kg, I guess.])
Steve Bennett the rocket man is back. About a year ago, he launched a three-meter rocket which remainders unfortunately couldn't be found (Sat-ND, 18./20.2.97.)
Bennett's latest device, called Starchaser 3, is over seven meters tall and cost UKP70,000. To be launched tomorrow, it is expected to fly for 34 seconds and travel some five kilometers. The vehicle is equipped with nine computers and eleven rocket motors. In flight, some experiments for Salford University will be conducted.
What appeared to be a strange hobby of Mr Bennett's in news reports one year ago, actually has a bit more serious background. Mr Bennett is the director of the space technology laboratory at the University of Salford, England, and aims at becoming the first amateur to put man into space.
Not just for fun, but because a U.S. company has reportedly offered US$10 million to anyone who can rocket three people 40 kilometers into space and bring them back safely [which probably is the harder part anyway.]
Mr Bennett was quoted as saying "I could definitely launch people into space within five years. I have drawn the plans, and we have even built models of the space craft, which would cost [UKP] 2.5 million to build.] Which would still leave some UKP3.5 million of the prise money.
Useless fact: In some Eskimo tribes, it is customary for mothers to suck the snot from their baby's noses and spit it upon the ground.
China's indigenous rockets are not exactly known for flawless performance, but the country has even more ambitious plans than to launch satellites for foreign customers.
China plans to launch a manned spacecraft and land an explorer on the moon, a leading Chinese space scientist was quoted as saying.
Ma Xingrui, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Space Technology (CAST) said that "China is striving to make breakthroughs in manned space flight technology at the end of this century or the beginning of the next century."
Apart from those spectacular items, the new Chinese space programme offers a bit of everything: developing large-capacity communication satellites to provide direct broadcasts, mobile communications and multi-media communications as well as improving remote-sensing satellites.
Recoverable satellites for life science experiments and material processing research are on the agenda, and there are also plans to develop small and low-cost satellites to meet the requirements of space exploration and international co-operation.
Ma was quoted as saying that China would put a priority on satellite payload technology and sophisticate satellite platform technology.
In related news, the Washington Times reported that the Clinton administration has decided to offer China access to U.S. missile technology if Beijing agrees to end exports of missiles to Iran, Pakistan and other developing nations
The paper quoted a letter from a White House National Security Council official that offers "expanded commercial and scientific space cooperation with China (in limited areas) if China meets our conditions for joining the [Missile Technology Control Regime] and controlling its missile-related exports to Iran, Pakistan, etcetera."
Useless fact: Sweden has the least number of murders annually.
The Russian Central Bank's Kupon satellite is malfunctioning, reported news agency Itar-Tass.
Informed source were quoted as saying the satellite, Russia's first own commercial spacecraft, may have already become "unable to function as a result of malfunctions in one of its systems."
A spokeswomen for the Central Bank confirmed that she had "information on some malfunctions." The bank is so far "not ready to estimate how grave they are, and what could be the consequences." A commission of bank and space industry representatives will gather on Friday to discuss the situation.
Launched in November 1997 (Sat-ND, 12./13.11.97,) the [probably] geostationary Kupon is according to the Central Bank still performing in-flight tests and has not been put into operation yet. It was designed to provide what probably could best be described as VSAT data transmission services to the Central Bank and its its 1,000+ regional branches, which would be linked to an accounting centre in Moscow so that money transfers could be made almost in real-time.
Useless fact: The first stall in a public bathroom is least often occupied and is the cleanest.
Other Russian companies plan to launch their own satellites, such as gas giant Gazprom whose Yumal satellite is slated for launch next September.
In general, satellite communication channels in Russia will increase at least threefold by the year 2000, says Vitaly Golikov, deputy head of the Radio, TV and Satellite Communication Board of the State Committee for Communications and Information Technologies.
He told a recent conference that he expects 300 satellite channels to be available in 2001, compared with 80 now. It seems that the increasing number of Internet users will also the fuel the growth of satellite-based services [cable modems and stuff may be fine, but just try to provide that giant country with a decent cable infrastructure. You will need more than three years for that.]
The national satellite network now includes 12 communication satellites operated by the state-owned Space Communication organisation, said news agency Interfax. It added the organisation will launch the first of its Ekspress-A satellites in 1999.
Useless fact: People who regularly start each day eating a bowl of cold breakfast cereal tend to consume more fibre and calcium -- but less fat -- than people who breakfast on other foods.
Comsat World Systems announced that the world's first commercial Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) satellite link is up and running, extending the U.S. Internet backbone to several South American countries.
The ATM satellite link, which according to Comsat -- the United States' Intelsat singantory -- has service quality comparable to fibre, will carry Internet traffic between Puerto Rico's Telefonica Larga Distancia (TLD) and South America. [By the way: the capabilities of fibre optic cables dwarf those of any satellite; but not all countries are well-served by those cables.]
ATM has emerged as the networking protocol of choice for Internet Service Providers, carriers and multinational corporations. Comsat's new proprietary equipment and service make it possible for companies to extend, efficiently and cost-effectively, their ATM networks around the globe via satellite.
The ATM satellite link supports applications at speeds up to 34 Mbps outbound from Puerto Rico to South America. Traffic inbound to Puerto Rico from South America will be supported at speeds up to 8 Mbps. TLD will access the Intelsat satellite located at 1 degree West using Telecomunicaciones Ultramarinas de Puerto Rico's (Ultracom) earth station facilities at Humacao in Puerto Rico.
ATM via Satellite is compatible with all major ATM network components, and supports ATM links at information rates ranging from fractional T1 to DS-3.
Useless fact: According to the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Rowing Association, 15 percent of amateur rowers earn more than US$100,000 a year.
U.S. media group Discovery will invest about US$100 million over four years in the BBC America channel it will launch soon with Britain's BBC.
Discovery chairman John Hendricks told a news conference in London that BBC America, due to launch on March 29, would initially be transmitted via digital cable in selected U.S. markets and then move to the more widely-available analogue cable platform. Hendricks expect the channel to be available in 20-25 million U.S. households within two year's time.
The deal obviously is one of the BBC's most ambitious efforts to tap the commercial potential of its programming. No further details were available at time of writing, but it was widely expected that the companies would also announce a co-production funding deal and the launch of two global channels -- "People and Arts" and "Animal Planet." As part of their alliance, BBC Worldwide and Discovery have already launched those channels in Spanish in Latin America.
In a separate deal, the BBC was also expected to take control of the company that markets two BBC television channels in Europe. BBC Worldwide was set to buy the rest of European Channel Management, which markets and distributes BBC World and BBC Prime channels in Europe, from co-owners Pearson Plc and Cox Communications Inc.
Useless fact: When a snake is born with two heads the heads fight each other for food.
by Dr Sarmaz
The head of News Corp., Keith Rupert Murdoch, has reportedly met Sua Emittenza, Dottore Silvio Berlusconi in Italy. The two media giants are in the closing stages of negotiations over a sale of shares in the Italian television group Mediaset -- despite all earlier statements to the contrary.
Talks over the sale by Berlusconi were "nearing the finishing line", the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported. Berlusconi controls Fininvest, which is the parent company of Mediaset. He has consistently denied that he would sell Mediaset to News Corp., but has acknowledged that his group was in touch with Murdoch over "an international alliance."
The most likely outcome was that Murdoch would acquire slightly less than 30 percent of Mediaset which would cost him some US$1.7 billion. Mediaset controls three private national television channels, Canal 5, Italia 1 and Rete 4. The licenses expire in April but Fininvest expects that the licences will be renewed.
However, Berlusconi (once prime minister) has to dispose of some of his assets if he wants to play politician in future. Even a member of parliament from his own right-wing party, Forza Italia, recently proposed a bill to prevent any member of the government from owning a daily newspaper or a television station.
Useless fact: There are over 30 000 verses in the Bible.
I have to admit that I am the kind of person who can't tell baseball from basketball. [Not because it's sports... actually, because it's U.S. sports.] Maybe that's why I didn't cover the story of Keith Rupert Murdoch trying to buy a baseball team, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
From what I glimpsed on the Internet today, the deal seems to have been okayed even though KRM's arch rival, Ted Turner, had been fighting to stop that deal.
Paul Gillingwater told Sat-ND that he had found a nice article on all that, which also contains loads of quotes from the Mouth of the South, Ted Turner. Have a look at it yourself.
Useless fact: The Soviet Sukhoi-34 is the first strike fighter with a toilet in it.
by Grandpa Zheng
Finally, here's proof that Europeans can be brainless morons who long for their governments to tell them what to read on the Internet.
Okay, the survey conducted by an independent information technology and telecommunications analyst group called Ovum [Latin for egg, I think] is hardly representative as only 400 European consumers were asked for their opinion.
The result is nonetheless nothing but appalling. Over half of those asked said they were concerned about the easy availability of pornography and violent entertainment via the Web and believe that Internet content should be regulated by an independent regulatory agency.
Quite hypocritical, I think [how do they know about the "easy availability of pornography and violent entertainment" anyway?], and complete and utter idiocy anyway. Is there any agency that regulates printed pornography or violence on TV anywhere in Europe? Probably not. Instead, the barriers are set by national laws.
Concerned about your children? Well, I hope you keep your porn mags or cassettes out of their reach. And besides, as sex and especially gratuitous violence are readily available on TV: I hope your kids don't have TV sets in their rooms. Same applies to computers and the Internet. Period! Good heavens, all you idiots shouldn't expect the government to educate your offspring, parents and parents alone are responsible for that in the first place.
Concerned about illegal material on the Web? It is, and has always been, illegal under national laws -- so there's no need for new laws or new regulatory bodies. Maybe there's some need to train law enforcement agencies to crack down on that, but that's a separate issue.
Yes folks, as far as freedom of speech is concerned, Europeans still got a lot to learn -- even from the U.S. of A.
Useless fact: Within a pride of lions, 90 percent of the hunting is done by the females.
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