ESA and NASA said in a statement that engineers believe the spacecraft is currently spinning with its solar panels nearly edge-on towards the Sun, and thus not generating any power. The orientation of the panels with respect to the Sun should gradually change, so that illumination of the solar arrays and, consequently, power supplied to the spacecraft, should approach a maximum around September 1998.
This strategy has worked at least once in the past: ESA's experimental Olympus satellite was recovered under similar circumstances back in 1991 (even though its batteries and fuel were frozen.) But a few uncertainties remain: Thermal stress may have damaged some of the scientific instruments as well. If the rate of spin is excessive, there may have been structural damage.
If contact cannot be re-established by September, SOHO will most likely be lost as from then on the illumination of the solar arrays gradually diminishes. On top of that, SOHO engineers say they can reliably predict the spacecraft's orbit only through November 1998.
The Joint ESA/NASA Investigation Board has detected at least three errors that led to the loss of communications. The first two errors were contained in preprogrammed command sequences executed on ground system computers, while the last error was a decision to send a command to the spacecraft in response to unexpected telemetry readings.
However, there seems to have been an anomaly that triggered the following chain of events, as the ESA/NASA statement implies: "The first error was in a preprogrammed command sequence that lacked a command to enable an onboard software function designed to activate a gyro needed for control in Emergency Sun Reacquisition (ESR) mode. ESR mode is entered by the spacecraft in the event of anomalies."
The board believes that the the combination of all three errors "caused the spacecraft to enter a series of Emergency Sun Reacquisitions, and ultimately led to the loss of control."
SOHO web site: http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/
SOHO Mission Interruption Preliminary Status and Background Report: http://umbra.nascom.nasa.gov/soho/prelim_and_background_rept.html
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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Tang Guoqiang told a news conference that "a few people in the US, in disregard of the facts, have been fabricating rumours out of nothing--out of thin air.
"Past co-operation between the United States and China in the field of satellite launching were totally normal commercial exchanges," he added.
Democrats on the Senate panel meanwhile said it had reached no final conclusions and questioned Lott's findings.
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EBU Secretary General Jean-Bernard Munch commented upon the recent World Cup, which (with an accumulated world-wide audience of 37 billion viewers) turned out to be the largest event in TV history ever.
"The World Cup is a unique, perfect example of an event for the man on the street and should be available as a whole--all matches should be accessible on free-to-air channels," Munch said in a statement. "In 2002, many matches will only be seen by those who can afford pay TV channels. This will spoil the excitement of the World Cup."
As reported frequently in this so-called newsletter, the world-wide TV rights (except for the U.S.) for the World Cup 2002 and 2006 were sold to Germany's Kirch group. It is yet uncertain what viewers will get to watch of those events on free-to-air channels. In the European Union, for instance, countries may set up a list of important sports events that have to be shown on free-to-air TV. In Germany, Kirch Group has recently said that all matches with German participation will be available free-to-air.
It's rather unclear whether all this actually means the events have to be shown live. Given the nature of today's TV business, matches will be repeated on free-to-air TV anyway in order to fully exploit the broadcasting rights. Which is a bit ridiculous, really: would you want to watch a repeat of your team's match when there's already celebrations going on out there in the streets?
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*) Stolen from "Tango Atlantico" by Joe Jackson
@Entertainment said Wizja TV currently offers 14 thematic channels in the Polish language and one English-language channel (CNNI,) all broadcast from a single Astra transponder. A decoder set is necessary for direct-to-home satellite reception. In the first 12 days the company distributed 3,000 sets of the 30,000 that are planned for distribution between now and September 18th.
The company plans to sell about 130,000 satellite sets in the market before the end of 1998 for a promotional price of US$135, which includes rental of a box, a satellite dish and a converter; installation and a one-year's subscription to the basic Wizja package.
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Hajime Unoki was quoted as saying that sales have increased 50% since last year and the company is now aiming at signing a million subscribers by the year-end. He estimates that the company will win over 1.5 million subscribers within two years, two million within three years, and three million within 5 years.
Unoki attributed the growth in subscriptions to the company's new sales strategy of allowing dealers to keep a customer's first month subscription as commission. [Commissions are, by the way, quite common for almost any digital satellite TV venture all over the world.]
Unoki estimates that SkyPerfecTV will need 1.5-2 million subscribers to break even. SkyPerfecTV's only rival in the Japanese commercial digital satellite broadcasting market is DirecTV, which presently has 140,000 subscribers.
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DirecTV's "expansion platform" on Galaxy III-R will feature the following EABC networks:
WMNB-TV, a Russian-language channel;
Network Asia, for viewers from the Indian subcontinent;
Ukrainian Broadcasting Network;
Ciao TV, the Italian Superchannel;
the Egyptian Satellite Channel;
Nile Drama, an Arabic-language service.
ECom, a Chinese-language channel;
ERT, Greek Television;
VIVA Cinema, a Filipino service;
Sony Entertainment Television, a Hindi channel from India.
According to a press release, EABC plans to distribute up to 20 ethnic channels through DirecTv, including programming in Greek, Mandarin Chinese, Filipino and Hindi.
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