Kistler chairman Robert Wang said the company had not only commitments for 26 launches but also options which, if exercised, will be worth over US$1 billion. All those were confidential, Wang was quoted as saying, but he said Space Systems/Loral was one of Kistler's major clients.
The price for a satellite launch is not secret: it's US$17 million, cheaper than a Russian or Chinese launch (U$20 million) or a U.S. launch (up to US$50 million.)
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The first planned maintenance launch was to be that of a Chinese Chang Zheng 2C/SD rocket, which can carry two satellites at a time, at the and of July. However, the two recent failures occurred in planes 2 and 6 of the constellation respectively. There are now three defunct satellites in plane 6 and two in plane 2, so plans had to be changed.
The Chang Zheng is capable of putting two satellites into orbit, which should have been enough when there were just two dead birds in plane 6. It will now launch two satellites into plane 2, but as the satellites have to be reconfigured, the launch will be delayed.
A Boeing Delta II will launch five satellites into plane 6: three for replacement, one as an in-orbit spare. The last one will later be shifted to plane 5 which currently is without a spare satellite. The launch is set for August 31 from Vandenberg Air Base.
The two flights should put the Iridium constellation back into operation which means that there are 71 satellites in total; eleven operational and one spare for each of the six planes--with the exception of plane 3 which will for the time have to cope without an in-orbit spare.
The Iridium service is expected to start September, 23. Unless the replacement satellites are up and running, doubts will remain whether this will really happen--especially as there has also been a delay in testing the Iridium satellite phones, which seems to be the result of problems with the satellites' software.
Even if the commercial service starts on September 23 as planned, there will be few customers as there will be only 250,000 handsets available this year. Another phone developed by Kyocera will not be available by September. Previously, Iridium has indicated that its gateway operators expected 270,000 subscribers by the end of the year.
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The study will take six months to complete and will yield a baseline in assessing technologies and trade-offs in developing broadband satellite terminals, SpaceBridge said in a press release.
"Over the past few years, increased global communication requirements have intensified the interest in satellite networks as a means to deliver broadband services. The next-generation satellite constellations are designed to deliver high-speed, broadband, multimedia communications to a wide range of customers."
SpaceBridge was created by two Canadian companies, COM DEV International and Newbridge Networks Corp. COM DEV International Ltd., is a leading manufacturer of space and ground-based wireless communications products and subsystems. Newbridge Networks Corporation designs and manufactures high-end narrowband and broadband switching equipment for public and private communication service providers around the world.
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The European launch provider Arianespace wants to get the third Ariane-5 up as soon as possible so that commercial launches, starting with flight 504, will not be delayed any further. Now, there was the idea to take the defunct[?] W1 and use it as dummy payload. This will not happen: maybe W1 can still be restored, or maybe they want to put it into a Museum for On-Ground Satellite Failures.
No, Arianespace has officially awarded Kayser-Threde of Munich, Bavaria with a contract for the delivery of a dummy payload for the forthcoming Ariane 5 launch.
The so-called MAQSAT 3 will match the original satellite W2's mechanical features and dynamical characteristics. A condition for the contract with the Munich-based space company Kayser-Threde called for the short delivery period of only three months. On September 1st, the dummy-structure with a mass of 2,600 kg and a length of more than 3 m will be flown to Kourou, Europe's spaceport. Launch is scheduled for October 13, 1998.
This third and last test flight of the new carrier Ariane 5 primarily aims at reaching GTO and at taking up commercial business with flight 504 as soon as possible.
During the development of MAQSAT 3, nine mechanical parameters have had to be adapted to the values of W2 within an extremely short time. In parallel, manufacture of the first parts has had to be started, with all activities running at maximum speed. After integration, a final modal test is planned.
The medium-sized company Kayser-Threde set up a schedule for every single day, with Sundays reserved for "trouble-shooting". After seven weeks, the schedule is still intact.
Kayser-Threde has already contributed to Ariane 502: the company delivered about 90 percent of the payload mass. During the launch in October 1997, the two instrumented platforms MAQSAT H and MAQSAT B investigated the mechanic and acoustic environment for future satellites.
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Department officials informed companies such as Earthwatch Inc., Space Imaging Inc., and Orbimage which plan to launch satellites equipped with new cameras that produce images of objects at least one square meter wide.
Under rules spelled out at the meeting, the companies may take pictures of the rest of the world at one meter resolution while Israel may be covered with a resolution of two meters. The U.S. government could prosecute the companies if they are found to violate the ban.
U.S. State Department officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that prohibiting one-meter imaging of Israel achieves a balance among economic development, national security and foreign policy while respecting Israel's security.
Space Imaging: http://www.spaceimaging.com/
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The only part of the companies' statement that might be of interest in this so-called newsletter's context is this: "The two companies will develop an intelligent, managed Internet Protocol (IP)-based global network to be implemented by the venture, its parents and their partners." Seems like they want to set up their own Internet. Good luck, I'll stay with this one.
As far as satellites are concerned, the deal has little implications--if any. BT is a shareholder in satellite operator SES of Luxembourg and also signatory to Eutelsat as well as Intelsat. AT&T recently sold its Skynet satellite division to Loral.
The deal is, as always, subject to regulatory approval. The European Union's probe is likely to focus on the companies' potential dominance of transatlantic traffic, as they did when BT tried to buy U.S. company MCI last year. The merger was cleared but only under certain conditions. That deal fell apart after WorldCom Inc outbid BT and became MCI's merger partner.
Details at http://att-bt-globalventure.att.com/
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This was echoed by a Bae spokesman who said "We've been having discussions with DASA like with others--Aerospatiale, Casa, Alenia, Saab--only in the context of the formation of the European company."
The Financial Times newspaper reported earlier that DASA and BAe had been discussing a merger that would be the biggest move so far to restructure Europe's crowded defence sector. The paper commented that Aerospatiale had an unduly high cost base and that the French were in a state of "panic at the prospect of being left out of Anglo-German defence co-operation." That could also have triggered the partial privatisation of France's state-owned Aerospatiale and its link-up with Matra.
DASA spokesman Christian Poppe was quoted as saying "There is no British-German axis, nor a French-German axis, in fact no axis at all. It is simply an effort to form this European group as early as possible. Not because it's amusing to us, but to be competitive with the United States."
DASA "will hold further talks and watch how the new Matra-Aerospatiale group takes shape. We're working intensively on the project," Poppe said.
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CBS Corporation and Discovery Communications have signed a letter of intent to form a 50-50 joint venture to operate the channel. Upon completion of a definitive agreement, Discovery Communications will become the managing partner of the network, which will be renamed Eye On People, and will fund future investments in the channel. The joint venture will be overseen by an Executive Board with representatives from Discovery and CBS.
Under Discovery's management, Eye On People, which reaches more than 11 million homes via cable and direct broadcast satellite, will continue to offer original reality-based programming focused on people and personalities, produced by CBS News, Discovery and outside producers.
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The white paper "China's National Defense" says that space belongs to all mankind, and should be used exclusively for peaceful purposes to benefit mankind.
The white paper urges the international community to work together to achieve a complete ban on weapons of any kind in outer space, including anti-missile and anti-satellite weapons, so as to keep outer space free of weapons.
It also calls for a ban of utilising space to seek strategic advantages on the ground as well as a ban of testing, producing and deploying of space-based weapons. Negotiations should be held as soon as possible for the conclusion of a legally-binding international agreement to that purpose.
Quite a nice idea, and I do agree by any means, but try to sell that to the U.S. military-industrial complex--ha! They're doing exactly that (testing space-based weapons) right now. And the Russians? Come on, they've got no money for that anyway.
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The militia's radio station (yes, radio is allowed under Taleban rule) made it clear that "officials of the religious police and other security organs have no right to enter peoples houses at night times and usurp or destroy peoples personal belongings."
The announcement came after complaints that "armed and unarmed men using the Taleban's name enter some peoples' houses during day and night times to search. They take TV sets or destroy them and tear books."
As reported earlier, the Taleban have banned not only television but also music, saying both would corrupt the population. [Quite an interesting question: don't they have some kind of religious music as most other religions seem to have? Just as I, you may not like the Catholic church but some of the best music ever could not have been created without it, and J. S. Bach--the greatest composer ever--would probably have simply starved hadn't he become a church musician. Besides, I can't really see how Bach's music could corrupt people in any way.]
There's no need to enforce the TV ban by brute force anyway: maybe some Afghans still watch TV, of course using improvised satellite dishes as there is no terrestrial service, but in case of a problem they just can't have their equipment repaired. The Taleban have also cracked down on the repair of television sets.
The Taleban militia say it is on a mission to create the world's purest Muslim state and, on that way, has also banned women from work and education.
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