This alliance will create the only DVB (digital video broadcast) direct-to-home platform in the United States that allows specialised and mainstream programming to be packaged separately, yet received in the same set-top box and accessible through a single smart card and electronic programme guide.
Loral Skynet and EchoStar will combine portions of their space assets, ground networks, and digital distribution resources to launch an end-to-end transmission and distribution service for specialty programming that can be received by both DTH consumers and cable operators throughout the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, and the Caribbean.
In conjunction with the alliance, Loral Skynet will create a new transmission and distribution service that will combine its Telstar fleet space segment, compression, encoding, uplinking, format conversion and multiplexing to enable specialty programmers--such as international channels, specialised channels, distance learning services and business television--to cost-effectively distribute their programming to targeted audiences throughout the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, and the Caribbean.
EchoStar will provide uplinking and distribution services from its facilities in Cheyenne, Wyo., as well as order processing, set-top box authorisation, and billing. In addition, EchoStar will launch a new DTH service package that will enable consumers who subscribe to specialty programming to receive more than 20 of the most popular cable networks and several premium movie services.
Loral Skynet's transmission and distribution service package and EchoStar's DTH service are slated to commence in September 1998 on Loral Skynet's Telstar 5 satellite at 97 degrees West.
Consumers in the United States will use EchoStar's next generation set-top box, a single smart card and a 90-cm dish. The DTH service will also be available to Caribbean residents who currently lack small dish access to satellite delivered multi-channel digital programming.
Loral Skynet and EchoStar have agreed that in the future, the DTH service and specialty programming customers in the United States will be able to subscribe to EchoStar's Dish Network using an additional antenna with the same receiver and smart card.
Echostar's Dish Network: http://www.dishnetwork.com/
Loral Skynet: http://www.loralskynet.com/
Back to top
The indigenous launcher will put three small satellites into orbit: the Korean Kitsat and the German Tubsat, both weighing 100 kg, and and Indian satellite of 950 kg.
"All the three satellites will be used for remote sensing and radio astronomy," the official said.
Back to top
In a commercial bidding process open to U.S. launch services providers, the NRO selected the Atlas IIIA in what Lockheed in a press release said was the first direct competition between the Atlas IIIA and Boeing's new Delta III.
The first launch of the Atlas IIIA is planned for early 1999. The first Atlas IIIA began final assembly in mid-March at Astronautics' facilities.
The defining characteristic of Atlas III vehicles is the use of the Russian RD-180 engine to power the Atlas booster. Atlas IIIA also uses a single Pratt & Whitney RL-10A engine to power the Centaur upper stage and is capable of lifting payloads weighing up to 4,174 kg to geostationary transfer orbit.
The RD-180 is currently undergoing extensive testing at NPO Energomash facilities in Khimky, Russia, where nine engines have been successfully test fired for a total of more than 9,000 seconds. This is the equivalent of more than 48 Atlas IIIA flights when compared to the 186 seconds the engine would operate during a typical Atlas mission.
Later this month, a prototype Atlas III booster stage, including an RD-180 engine, will be fired on a test stand at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. This will be the first Russian-built rocket engine to be test fired at a U.S. government facility.
Back to top
Bertelsmann has told the Federal Cartel Office, the country's competition watchdog, that it plans to raise its stake in Premiere to 50 percent by buying 12.5 percent currently held by Canal Plus. The French pay-TV giant intends to sell its 37.5-percent stake in the channel, which will expand its digital bouquet soon.
Bavarian media tycoon Kirch is expected to take over the remaining 25 percent of Canal Plus' stake. Premiere will use Kirch's d-box for Premiere's new digital channels. Kirch had ordered a million of those set-top boxes from Nokia of Finland. Reportedly, just 250,000 were sold, probably more than half of them even without a subscription for Kirch's ailing digital service DF1.
Speaking of which, DF1 will be discontinued, or rather: it will more or less become a part of Premiere's digital service. It doesn't really matter if the service will be offered under the same brand name, it is even of no relevance whether the channels will keep their respective names. What's important is that Kirch will supply Premiere with pay-TV and PPV film rights.
However, this deal is subject to regulatory approval, too. The German cartel office, which has four months to make a decision, has meanwhile also contacted the EU commission. Critics say that the new plans of Bertelsmann and Kirch were in effect very similar to those just banned by Brussels.
"Any future developments regarding Kirch, Bertelsmann and the shareholdings in Premiere will be examined in the light of this ban," a spokesman for the German cartel office was quoted as saying. "There can be no question of Kirch and Bertelsmann installing step by step a structure similar to the banned project," he added.
Back to top
It's a bit boring, actually. Not much is happening over there except for papers, politicians and experts accusing or excusing each other. Here's an example. The background to all this is that the U.S. government has banned the sale of any military equipment to China after Chinese troops killed hundreds as they broke up pro-democracy protests at Beijing's Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.
The New York Times reported on Saturday that China's military has been using U.S.-made satellites sold to civilian companies, namely Asia-Pacific Telecommunications (APT) of Hong Kong. The paper claimed the public company was partly owned by Costind, the scientific and research arm of the Chinese Army, which also leased transponder capacity on one of APT's Apstar satellites.
The China army's newspaper openly hailed the advances brought by the satellites, noting that officers "cried themselves hoarse" or ran long distances to post offices using the old system, the Times said.
No, it's just the other way round, the Washington Post said the same day, Saturday. U.S. intelligence had received "unpublicized benefits" from the launch of commercial satellites aboard Chinese rockets and from the sale of U.S. communication satellites to China.
"We know the frequencies, the orbits and the way to jam it if we ever went to war," one U.S. source is quoted as saying. The Post said the U.S. military actually wants the Chinese military to use US-made communication satellites because Washington would be more likely to decode Beijing's military messages [a rather strange claim.]
The Post said the military also have gained insights into the Chinese missile programme by monitoring lift-offs of Chinese rockets putting U.S. satellites into orbit.
Back to top
This web site features revealing animation depicting wildfires across the globe, NASA said in a statement. It draws upon satellite resources from several U.S. agencies and international partners and is intended to serve the needs of the scientific community and the general public.
Back to top