Good heavens. Once again, just U.S. stuff in this issue. Puke! Anybody got any other news, or at least good clean jokes like that one at the end of this issue? The shorter they are, the better :-) Cheers!
The HGS-1 communications satellite (formerly known as Asiasat-3) arrived in geosynchronous orbit over the Pacific Ocean after a spectacular mission that sent it around the moon twice to reposition it into a useful orbit.
Hughes Global Services Inc. (HGS) said in a press release that today satellite controllers fired the on-board motor for 12 minutes, which slowed the spacecraft enough to enter a circular orbit 36,000 km above the equator.
The satellite's orbit was described as geostationary with an inclination of a few degrees, which means that it will drift a few degrees north and south of the equator every day.
"The lunar recovery mission team did an outstanding job. Everything has gone just as predicted," said Ronald V. Swanson, HGS president. "It really validates the viability of this technique for future missions."
Great. And now? As a consequence of its inclined orbit, HGS-1 will probably not be ideally suited to deliver direct broadcast services. The satellite will be "parked" in a dormant state over the Pacific until Hughes finds customers for it.
"This is a real opportunity for someone to kick-start or augment their business with an in-orbit satellite, at less cost and time than it would take to contract and build their own satellite," Swanson said. Even though HGS' primary business is packaging satellite communications services for governmental entities, it is actively seeking interest in the entire satellite as well.
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Nearly all of Muzak's 125,000 customers were affected by the malfunction of the Galaxy IV satellite, Muzak said in a press release, but are now fully tuned to Galaxy IIIR and listening to what they called "music" again.
Of course, there was a lot of re-aligning of dishes and re-tuning reception equipment and people working overtime etc. etc., but the most important question was not answered by Muzak's statement. "Each day that continued without music, our customers realised anew just how important Muzak is to their own environment," said Bill Boyd, chief executive officer of Muzak Limited Partnership.
Oh... I almost forgot the unanswered question. How on Earth did they all survive the silence?
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What's interesting, though, is that I found a "Weight History" of the planned flight. Not only does it describe the weight of the rocket at each stage of its flight--it also shows that the way geostationary satellites are usually launched today is incredibly ineffective.
The figures speak volumes: the total mass of the system (including the satellite) is 238,408 kg at lift-off. In the end just 3,524 kg will be put into a geostationary transfer orbit; not even 1.5 percent of the total mass.
Another problem is that most of the mass consists of fuel that is burnt during the first phase of the flight, thus polluting the atmosphere. More than 90 percent of the mass are concentrated in the rocket's first stage. After the Centaur separation, the mass is just 22,422 kg.
It' about time those new launch systems were realised--but no, reusable systems don't really do the trick if they use the same amount of fuel.
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The name indicates that the GRAB satellites served a scientific purpose, and to some extent they actually did. The declassification announcement said that the satellites carried a payload to measure solar radiation called SolRad, which was at the time publicly disclosed in Department of Defense press releases.
But there also was a second, top-secret U.S. Navy electronic intelligence (ELINT) payload on board. The project had been placed under a tight security control system with access limited to fewer than 200 officials in the Washington DC area.
The programme wasn't too successful, it seems. The first GRAB satellite got a free ride into space on June 22, 1960 with Navy's third Transit navigation satellite. There were four more launch attempts only one of which was successful (June 29, 1961.)
The satellites' mission was to obtain information on Soviet air defence radar that could not be observed by U.S. Air Force and Navy ferret aircraft flying ELINT missions along accessible borders in Europe and the western Pacific.
All this may be interesting for historians in the first place, but it also shows that satellites can have their secrets--maybe even today.
Naval Research Laboratory: http://www.nrl.navy.mil/
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The APMT satellite is to be supplied by Hughes Space and Communications of the USA. On Hughes' Web site, you can find an artist's impression of the APMT satellite that strikingly resembles what other artists think the U.S.' Trumpet, Orion and Vortex spy satellites look like. It has to be noted, though, that those satellites' antennas are up to ten times larger than that of an APMT satellite. Hold your breath for the URLs.
"Featuring 7 kilowatts of power and a 12.25-meter L-band antenna, the APMT system will provide the infrastructure to support residents in Asia-Pacific countries reaching north to China, south to Indonesia, east to Japan, and west to Pakistan. The APMT system is capable of supporting 16,000 voice circuits simultaneously. The first APMT satellite, an HS GEM spacecraft model designed specifically for geomobile communications, will be available for a Long March 3B launch in 2000. APMT is designed to provide a minimum of 12 years of service from its orbital slot between 95 degrees and 125 degrees East longitude."
(Hughes Press Release)
The problem is that exactly this huge antenna might provide the Chinese military with enhanced communications capabilities, The New York Times said. The Pentagon and State Department were asking whether the sophisticated satellites should be sold to a Chinese controlled company with close ties to the Chinese military, government officials reportedly said.
The deal was okayed by U.S. president Paula... Monica... Hillary... Viagra, no wait, Bill Clinton almost exactly two years ago after determining that China could acquire the same satellite technology from Europe anyway. Besides, it would not contribute to Chinese military capabilities.
Not even Hughes seems to believe that, as a spokesman was quoted as saying the satellites had both civilian and military potential. A spokesman for APMT told The New York Times that the satellite network would be marketed to civilians, but that it would be up to Chinese Government regulators to decide if China's military could use the satellites.
APMT Press Release and Photo (Hughes Space and Communications): http://www.hughespace.com/hsc_pressreleases/photogallery/amss/98_05_08_amss.html
Trumpet/Orion (FAS): http://www.fas.org/spp/military/program/sigint/trumpet.htm
Vortex (FAS): http://www.fas.org/spp/military/program/sigint/vortex2.htm
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Paula: Can I tell you my joke now, please?
Nick: Oh yeah, you had a joke, didn't you. Blimey. [Sigh]
Paula: Don't put me on hold!
Nick: OK, let's get it over and done with. Here is her joke.
Paula: It's a clean one.
Nick: Oh, we don't want to hear it.
Nick: Yes, get on with it, dear.
Paula: OK, this man,
it's not rude, or anything like that, this man had a sex change
basically and he went into the pub and his friends said to him,
'Wow, you look fantastic mate! But it must have been a horrendous
operation!' You know, and the man said, 'Oh it was OK, it was just
one thing that bothered me.'
'What's that? Is it when they cut off your private parts?'
'No that was a breeze, that was nothing.'
'OK, well is it when they gave you breasts?'
And the man said, 'No, no, no, didn't feel a thing.'
'Well then, what on earth hurt?!'
He said, 'It was when they shrunk my brain, enlarged my mouth, and reduced my pay packet.'
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