Over the next few weeks Sat-ND will be published sporadically rather than daily
The Sea Launch Commander has completed final fitting in the Kanonersk Shipyard and is now at the Port of St. Petersburg, Russia, loading the first Sea Launch rocket. While in St. Petersburg, more than 600 tons of electronic and mechanical support equipment for mission control were installed. This 650-foot-long ship, a floating rocket assembly plant and mission control center, was constructed in the Kvaerner Govan Shipyard in Glasgow, Scotland, and was christened there in September 1997.
The Odyssey is a self-propelled, semi-submersible launch platform from which satellites will be boosted into orbit on board Sea Launch rockets. Originally modified from an oil drilling platform at the Kvaerner shipyard in Stavanger, Norway, it has been docked in the Kvaerner yard in Vyborg, Russia, since May 1997. There, 3000 tonnes of automated rocket handling equipment have been installed.
The home port for both vessels will be in Long Beach, California/USA, the operational headquarters for Sea Launch. After additional testing at sea, the Sea Launch Commander will depart for Long Beach, with arrival set for July. It will carry the first two flight Zenits and Block DM's--which have been fully tested and accepted by the venture.
Too large to transit the Panama Canal, the Odyssey (which is expected to leave Vyborg on June 15) is tentatively scheduled to arrive at the home port in mid-to-late August.
Sea Launch's first launch, scheduled for later this year, is to put PanAmSat's Galaxy XI into orbit, a Hughes HS 702 communications satellite. According to Energiya, there could be up to six Sea Launch flights per year.
Boeing Co's of the U.S. has a 40 percent stake in the Sea Launch Company behind the US$2-billion venture set up in 1995. Russian space manufacturer Energiya has 25 percent, Norway's Kvaerner Maritime Company 20 percent and Ukrainian space firm KB Yuzhnoye/PO Yuzhmash 15 percent.
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Under the accord, Coleman will produce small expendable satellite launch vehicles called LK-1, integrating components and technology developed by IAI for its own Shavit launch program. IAI has launched three Ofek spy satellites using its Shavit launch vehicle.
The accord with IAI will also enable Coleman to participate as chief contractor in a tender by the U.S. National Aeronautics & Space Administration's small expendable launch vehicle services program, IAI said.
It said the two companies were exploring possible launch sites at Cape Canaveral and Wallops Island, both located in the USA. Satellite launches from Israel are rather delicate as the country is not at all ideally located for geographical as well as political reasons (it's probably not a good idea to let burnt-out rocket stages drop on the territory of Arab countries; so Israel has to launch rockets against the direction of the Earth's rotation, which diminishes the maximum payload.)
Last March, reports said that Washington had blocked the deal because it could help Israel's nuclear weapons program. According to Haaretz newspaper, the U.S. government refused to approve the agreement which would have permitted 'test' launches of Israel's Shavit rocket from U.S. soil.
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.
Considering the growing concerns over a new nuclear race (India, Pakistan, Microsoft ;-) and helping other nations (China) develop missile technology, it will be interesting to watch what the U.S. government will do about the deal.
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To get that silly vacuum thing straight first: the report I was quoting said the fire occurred in an "anaecoid" chamber. That typo led yours truly to believe it was some kind of vacuum ("aneroid") chamber. Wrong, as Paiboon Panuwattanawong kindly corrects. Actually, it was an anechoic chamber, "a room that is very quiet owing to all those foams that just soak up all the reflections of acoustic and RF waves so that RF signals can accurately be measured, especially when testing antenna [beam] patterns."
This so-called newsletter learnt from sources close to Aerospatiale that Eutelsat W1 was undergoing final tests when the fire broke out. The cause for the fire was that one of the antennas, being tested at maximum power, was directly pointing towards a wall covered in carbon foam. Owing to the high RF power released (60 Watts--compare that to a light bulb, which can get pretty hot as well) the foam quickly overheated and started burning. The rest is history: W1 got a refreshing shower from the sprinkler system.
The first information released just after the accident was very pessimistic, but it seems now that the satellite will be ready as scheduled or only slightly delayed. The satellite needs some more drying [wonder how they do it, with a hairdryer?,] some extensive cleansing [with Kleenex?] and of course a new antenna system. This is likely to have an impact on some other satellite projects less important than Eutelsat W1, which in course might be slightly delayed.
Independent industry sources told Sat-ND that they've heard of a lot of goofy things happening to satellites at production facilities "but this one tops 'em all." Maybe not--others remember the very same thing happening to Hughes quite a while ago. Which makes it even stranger that such an embarrassing event could happen again, especially as Aerospatiale managers were recently heard saying they were "prepared even for an earthquake." Apparently, they were not prepared for some real-life hazards.
(Special thanks to everybody who contributed to this; I'm really proud that my readers turn this so-called newsletter into something special... from time to time, that is ;-)
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The team recently submitted to the MoD a proposal for the Project Definition Study to define the military's satellite communications architecture. The award decision for this phase of the two-year study is anticipated in the summer.
Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space will serve as a subcontractor to British Aerospace Defence Systems, which designed the ground management segments of Skynet 4.
The proposed Skynet 5 National architecture comprises two geosynchronous satellites with one spare spacecraft and the associated ground anchor stations and control network. The system will provide communications coverage over Europe, the Middle East, Africa, parts of Asia, the Atlantic Ocean and eastern United States.
Though Skynet 5 is still in the planning stages, it will feature such attributes as fully redundant systems, interoperability with U.S. communication systems and the ability to serve fixed, mobile and man-portable terminals. The satellites, based on the Lockheed Martin A2100 commercial satellite bus, will operate in the EHF, SHF and UHF frequencies. Skynet 5 will process much more data far more quickly than the current system and be equipped with greater security features.
Should the concept be selected for development, the other team members will be: Lockheed Martin Federal Systems, which will provide the components that control the satellites and payloads; Lockheed Martin Communications and Power Center, which will supply SHF and UHF payloads; Lockheed Martin Astronautics, which will provide launch services; and TRW Space and Electronics Group, which will produce the EHF payloads.
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TV5 began trial transmissions in French and Arabic on Arabsat last January.
Arabsat, owned by 21 Arab countries, carried no French language programmes for a period after a technical glitch at the satellite uplink caused some pornographic material to be shown instead of that of state-funded Canal France International.
CFI had been the only channel broadcasting French programmes to the Arab world.
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Channel One will also incur costs associated with repositioning satellite dishes on its 12,000 participant schools to the Galaxy III-R satellite. Together these factors will result in the lowering of Primedia's 1998 second-quarter EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) by as much as US$5 million.
Channel One, a 12-minute news programme with commercials beamed each weekday during the school year to 12,000 middle, junior high and high schools in the U.S., will have its distribution system completely restored well before the start of the new school year in August.
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EU competition commissioner Karl van Miert made a last attempt on Tuesday to find a compromise. He was able to persuade Bavarian media mogul Leo Kirch and Telekom, Germany's largest cable operator, to make further concessions. The compromise in principle called for unbundling pay-TV channels on cable so that cable operators did not have to distribute them as a bouquet but could pick more or less whatever they wanted.
"The most aggravating point is that not only were we asked to concede the distribution and marketing of our product by others, but that they make a profit by doing so and we make a loss," foamed Michael Dornemann, Bertelsmann board member in charge of television activities.
"They would have been able to package programmes themselves and, using our programme as the locomotive, come up with a better offer to compete against us. That was not acceptable to us," he was quoted as saying.
"I felt rather confident that the conditions spelt out yesterday and accepted by Kirch and Telekom were reasonable and defendable ... but Bertelsmann rejected the proposals," Van Miert was quoted as saying. He thanked Leo Kirch personally: "I appreciate the way Mr Kirch tried to reach a solution with us."
Originally, Bertelsmann was reported to have asked for for another two days to consider the compromise. Karel van Miert yesterday: "I think this is going to put enormous pressure on Bertelsmann and I would not be surprised if (German Chancellor Helmut) Kohl was to apply pressure and argue that without the deal Kirch would disappear and that would be catastrophic."
He added "I don't think Bertelsmann will be able to say 'No'. They have Kirch's fate in their hands." Kirch is known to have close ties with the governing Christian Democrats. Maybe that's why Bertelsmann actually did say 'No' in the end--especially as almost nobody in Germany expects the current government to stay in office after the general election next autumn.
KirchGroup became deeply indebted after it spent billions of marks to build up a huge film library and sports broadcasting rights for its DF1 service which it has threatened to close down. The company said it would keep DF1 on the air for the time in the hope a compromise could still be reached.
There's no need to fear that Kirch could disappear, as van Miert indicated: the Bavarian media mogul has survived at least three major crises over the past few centuries and each time returned stronger than before.
Bertelsmann will expand the digital offering of Premiere, where Kirch is still a shareholder, albeit at a slower pace. They will use Kirch's set-top box "d-box" for that--Kirch had ordered 1 million from Nokia but could so far sell or lease just 160,000 of them. What's more, Premiere will even buy a certain part of Kirch's pay-TV rights, which should supply Kirch with some cash--all that has never been part of the EU probe.
The unknown factor is pay-TV expert Keith Rupert Murdoch, widely rumoured as number one candidate for a deal with Kirch. Such an alliance is likely to pass EU scrutiny as KRM has almost no stakes in the German TV market so far, except for a 49.9-percent interest in a free-to-air repeat channel ("Vox".) What's really interesting is that this channel does not belong to Kirch's realm but to that of CLT-Ufa. So, a Bertelsmann/Murdoch deal might thus also be possible.
In the past, the EC has banned only nine mergers, but three of them were media related:
September 20, 1995: Dutch TV joint venture Holland Media Group between TV companies RTL4 and Veronica and TV programme producer Endemol Entertaining
July 19, 1995: Nordic satellite TV joint venture between Norsk Telekom and TeleDanmark to transmit programmes to cable TV operators and households
November 9, 1994: MSG Media Service joint venture between Leo Kirch, Bertelsmann and Deutsche Telekom to provide technical and administrative services for pay-TV such as customer billing
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The acquisition involves Dragon Viceroy Ltd. (DVL) and Rankon Ltd. purchasing shares from the existing shareholders to attain 46 percent and five percent shareholding in ATV, respectively. Following the transfer of shares, DVL will become the largest shareholder of ATV.
As a result, the number of directors will increase from 12 to 16 and Wong Po-yan, airport authority director and a deputy to China's National People's Congress, will become the chairman of ATV's board of directors.
ATV had to apply for government approval to allow new director Liu Changle, chairman of the China-backed Phoenix Chinese Channel, in which Keith Rupert Murdoch is also involved, to exercise control in the company by virtue of his 13.7 percent share holding. The company has confirmed that Liu "will not involve himself in the day-to-day management of the station, nor ... in making programming and editorial decisions," a government statement said.
Lim Por-yen, chairman of Lai Sun Development who has been released on bail in Taiwan pending a probe into a bribery scandal, will cut his controlling stake in ATV to 16.08 percent from 51.00 percent. New World Development will cut its ATV stake to 13.75 percent from 27.5 percent, while casino mogul Stanley Ho will divest his holding to 2.5 percent from 5.0 percent.
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A petition by a lawyer had accused Star of screening four allegedly obscene films--"Dance of the Damned," "Stripped to Kill," "Big Bad Mama" and "Jigsaw Murders". [Those titles should speak for themselves, actually.]
Prem Kumar, chief metropolitan magistrate of the New Delhi court, said neither KRM nor the chief executive officer of the Hong Kong-based satellite network, Gary Davey, had responded to the first summons in November 1997.
The magistrate ordered the summons to be delivered to KRM by registered post and through an international courier agency.
Kumar added that if Davey failed to show up in court he would order subscription fees and advertisement revenue collected for the network in India to be withheld.
Star TV, part of Murdoch's News Corp. media empire, broadcasts a small number of channels in India via cable. It is campaigning for a DTH satellite licence to beam programmes directly into viewers' homes.
That campaign may get a bit more difficult as KRM risks being arrested when going to India.
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Canal+ will provide BDB with its interactive Mediahighway system which includes a version of the universal graphics interpreter MHEG-5 selected by the Digital Terrestrial Group (DTG) as the standard for all digital terrestrial broadcasters in the United Kingdom. Interactive services available include Internet to PC software downloading, electronic programme guides, home banking, games, impulse and subscription pay-per-view, weather, interactive advertising and job-seeking services.
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The decoders will be developed in Thomson's R&D centre at Rennes, France. They will be manufactured in France and Mexico. The first boxes are expected to be delivered at the end of this year.
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The headline "Microsoft conducts nuclear test, warns government" in Sat-ND, 25.05.98 should have read "Joke du jour" instead. We apologise for any inconvenience or confusion;-))))