by I R Baboon
More bad weather in China. No go two Iridiums today!
Try again tomorrow on Long March 2C/SD. Funny little letters.
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A Pakistani research satellite will be put in orbit by a Russian rocket this year, reported news agency Itar-Tass.
The 70-kg Badar-2 satellite is currently undergoing pre-launch tests at the aerospace laboratory in Lahore. It will measure solar radiation and will collect information about Pakistan's natural resources. Badar-1, launched aboard a Chinese rocket in 1990, stopped working after only 35 days in space following a failure of its onboard systems.
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China's Economic Daily said the country's aerospace industry has consistently developed new rockets in accordance with market demand.
The Long March 3b, for example, does not only fully satisfy the demands for placing satellites into geosynchronous transfer orbit, but also offers certain technical advantages for the low- to medium-earth orbit satellite market, the paper said.
It stated the Long March rockets, in use since 1970, had an overall success rate of 88 percent. Of 50 launches, 44 were successful. 17 flights were commercial missions, placing foreign satellites into orbit. Customers were from the United States, Sweden, Australia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Hong Kong.
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PanAmSat Corporation announced that Hughes Electronics Corporation is increasing its equity position in the company to 81 percent through the purchase of 9.5 percent of PanAmSat common stock from Grupo Televisa, S.A. and a group of founding shareholders of the original PanAmSat company.
To increase its ownership from 71.5 to 81 percent, Hughes is acquiring Televisa's remaining interest in PanAmSat of 7.5 percent of PanAmSat common stock for US$675 million as well as 2 percent (US$175 million) from the founding shareholder group, which includes several members of the family of PanAmSat's late founder Rene Anselmo and related trusts.
"PanAmSat will work closely with the Anselmo family to develop an effective process for its sale of common stock. This process will enable the Anselmo family to diversify its holdings, which would increase the public float of PanAmSat stock for the first time since the merger of PanAmSat and the Hughes Galaxy business," said Frederick A. Landman, PanAmSat's president and chief executive officer.
Operating a global network of 17 satellites, PanAmSat provides broadcast and telecommunications services to hundreds of customers world-wide. It plans to increase its current transponder capacity by more than 60 percent at the end of 1999. Grupo Televisa S.A. is the largest media company in the Spanish-speaking world and besides one of PanAmSat's most important customers.
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There's a digital TV provider less in Japan as from today. PerfecTV Corp. and Japan Sky Broadcasting have merged and will in July start offering 171 channels under the channel name of SKYPerfecTV.
The merged company is capitalised at 40 billion yen. Major shareholders include Sony Corp., Fuji Television Network Inc., Itochu Corp., Softbank Corp. and Keith Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. With the merger, Japan's digital satellite broadcasting market is split between SKYPerfecTV and DirecTV Japan Inc., which launched a 90-channel service last December.
SKYPerfecTV is expected to become profitable in its fiscal year 2000, news agency Kyodo quoted the top management of the new firm. They expect the subscriber base to exceed 2 million by the end of fiscal 1999. PerfecTV has some 670,000 subscribers, JSkyB originally planned to start test broadcasts in April. Rival DirecTV, launched on December 1, 1997 so far declined to give details of the number of subscribers it has attracted.
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Intelsat Director General and CEO Irving Goldstein painted a bright future for the growth of satellite communications in Africa in an address to the annual meeting of representatives of twelve African country members of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation (Intelsat).
According to an Intelsat press release, Goldstein outlined the organisation's ongoing mission of bringing advanced telecommunications connectivity to Africa and ensuring universal international service at affordable rates, even as it was moving toward further commercialisation and adaptation to the international marketplace.
Of a total of 142 countries, Intelsat has over 40 African members, with capital investment amounting to more than US$150 million. In 1997, Intelsat's revenue from Africa exceeded US$84 million, representing nearly a 15 percent growth from the previous year. Twelve spacecraft of Intelsat's 20-satellite-fleet provide advanced communications services to the African countries, with more than 900 earth stations connected to the Intelsat system.
In addition to traditional voice and video services, Intelsat provides Africa with access to the Internet backbone, telephony services, and VSAT services for telephony and business networks. Intelsat also provides about sixty percent of its technical, operational, training and financial services to African customers, the organisation said.
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No sex, no violence, no news -- that was the original slogan of China Entertainment Television (CETV.) They dropped one of the nos. Guess which.
Under an agreement reached with Cable TV, a subsidiary of the Wharf group, CETV now features Cable TV news in its "Info 830" programme. Ronald Chiu, news controller of Cable TV, was quoted as saying the delivery of Cable TV news to southeast Asian countries would serve "to promote understanding of Hong Kong affairs in the region." The Chinese-language satellite channel CETV is uplinked from Hong Kong and broadcast to southeast Asian countries via Apstar-1. The other two nos stay in effect, though.
A Chinese consortium last January pulled out of a deal to buy 80 percent of the company. As a consequence, CETV suffered a cash-flow crisis and had to lay off half of its 200 staff. Talks are said to be underway with prospective buyers for the satellite television station.
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Time is running out for German media giants Kirch and Bertelsmann and their planned digital TV alliance. Reportedly, the European Commission has rejected the companies' latest proposals.
Kirch had offered to sell 25 percent of output-rights to Hollywood films, and to license production of digital decoders in order to win regulatory approval for his television alliance with Bertelsmann.
Kirch owns Europe's biggest film library and has output-deals with Hollywood majors Warner, Disney, Columbia, Paramount, Universal and Fox which give it the right to buy most films produced in future. Critics have in the past been wondering how he would finance those multi-billion dollar deals in the first place.
According to latest reports, the Commission--acting as the EU's competition watchdog--considers the proposals inadequate as they would not exclude the danger of a digital TV monopoly. Talks would continue, however.
Even before, sources close to the talks were quoted as saying the 25 percent quota was insufficient, especially as it did not include Kirch's pay-TV and pay-per-view rights on the sports sector. The proposal to license the production of decoder boxes was too vague, too: it was still unclear how disputes over licensing terms would be settled despite suggestions for an arbitration body.
So, time is indeed running out as the Commission will on May 6 consult a committee of merger experts from the 15 EU states. The final decision is expected on May 20 or 27. Kirch officials last week announced that should the deal fall through, the company's digital bouquet DF 1 would be scrapped. In the meantime, Bertelsmann was reported to have similar plans for its Premiere Digital service, so Germany would [hopefully] in effect become digital TV-free.
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And here we go again with yet another proof that former U.S. president Ronald McDonald's Star Wars plans are not only alive but earn the country's military-industrial complex billions of bucks.
The Pentagon awarded Boeing Co. a US$1.6 billion, three-year contract Thursday to co-ordinate development of a ground-based shield against ballistic missiles. [Not much compared to the US$50 billion Star Wars has cost so far.]
Under the contract, Boeing will be responsible for design, development, testing and integration of a variety of components for a national missile defence system. The loser in the contract contest, United Missile, is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and TRW.
There are quite a lot of ifs and buts from Pentagon officials: the system will be limited, it will be more modest that the space-based Star Wars, and the award does not mean the system developed by Boeing will be deployed at all.
Come on, US$1.6 billion for nothing? Not really. If all contract options are exercised, the total potential value of the contract is US$5.2 billion, Pentagon officials said. Should a system be deployed, the value could grow by billions of dollars more. However, it's up to whoever is U.S. president in 2000 to decide whether to build the system.
It's not that the U.S. haven't tested ground-based missile interception in recent years, but those efforts have failed several times--to often anyway to offer adequate protection. Star Wars protagonists such as Lt. Gen. Lester Lyles, the head of the Pentagon's Ballistic Missile Defense Organisation (BMDO,) pointed out that "No decision has been made to deploy a national missile defence system." BMDO is more or less the official name for Star Wars.
Lyles, speaking at a Pentagon briefing, added that "we are continuing our development efforts to design a system with the capability to protect all 50 states from a limited missile attack from a rogue nation or an accidental or unauthorised launch from one of the current nuclear powers." [Or maybe even rogue comets, or UFOs sent by GOD?]
The current direction taken by the Clinton administration was outlined by a Pentagon statement that said "A limited system could be deployed by 2003. If deployed, this system will consist of ground-based interceptor missiles, space-based satellites for missile-launch detection and interceptor guidance, and a battle management command, control and communication system."
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There's even more from God's own country. A U.S. Representative introduced legislation this week that sets forth basic principles to maintain what he called U.S. leadership in space.
It's of course not a coincidence that Republican Dave Weldon represents Florida's "Space Coast" in Congress--that's the place for many rocket launches which in future may become less important owing to increasing international competition.
Weldon calls for a "national commitment" to, for instance:
"Ensuring a continuous and strengthened human presence in space through the 21st century." [So that the aliens will finally have to take notice of us, I guess.]
"Continuing to explore our universe to advance scientific discoveries and improve our understanding of the planet Earth.
"Funding space-related defence systems that give our armed forces the greatest possible advantage during times of national crisis or conflict." [Ronald McDonald will be most pleased.]
"Sustaining a leadership position in national security space by developing new and more effective technologies.
"Improving the cost efficiency and effectiveness of our national defense through investment in space-based communications, intelligence, and early-warning capabilities."
In a press release, The United States Space Foundation, in its own words "the leading not-for-profit educational and space awareness organisation," urged all Americans to rally behind Weldon's "Declaration of Space Leadership."
"Some 40 years after the initiation of the Space Age, it is time for our country to re-dedicate itself to the exploration and development of space," said Bill Knudsen, Foundation president.
Which is by no means a bad idea! It has long been my opinion that this planet is just too small for the USA, so why not put the nation as a whole on of those lovely Jupiter moons, or if they can get that far, on some cosy planet orbiting Alpha Centauri?
What? No atmosphere?!
Come on, a space leader such as the U.S. of A. can cope with that. Go West! Or just go somewhere else and just leave us others alone, will ya? Thanks, and have a nice day!
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