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Astronautics said it will use the RD-180 engine to power its new Atlas III rockets and the company's family of Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELV), being developed in co-operation with the U.S. Air Force. Two more tests are planned over the next two months. The duration of each of the subsequent tests will be 70 seconds.
The tests at Marshall are designed to demonstrate the performance of the engine and associated elements of the rocket including avionics, propellant tanks and feedlines, electronics and hydraulics. The RD-180 is currently undergoing additional testing at NPO Energomash facilities in Khimky, Russia. Nine developmental engines already have been successfully test fired for a total of more than 10,000 seconds. During a typical Atlas IIIA mission, the engine would operate for 186 seconds.
Lockheed Martin has established an international teaming relationship with the RD AMROSS, LLC joint venture that was formed by the Russian company NPO Energomash and Pratt & Whitney, an operating unit of United Technologies Corporation, to co-produce the RD-180 engines under exclusive contract for Lockheed Martin.
Compared to Lockheed Martin's Atlas IIAS model, the most powerful configuration of the current Atlas family, the new Atlas IIIA featuring the RD-180 reduces the number of engines that power the rocket from nine to two, reduces the number of parts by more than 15,000 and is simpler and less costly to build and operate. First launch of the Atlas IIIA is planned for early 1999.
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Reaching China and other countries in south, east, central and southeast Asia, Zhongwei I will provide telecommunications services such as live television transmission and special network access, the agency added.
An official with the China Orient Telecom Satellite Company, which is responsible for maintaining the Zhongwei I, was quoted as saying the in-orbit tests demonstrated that the satellite is in complete compliance with contracted performance requirements.
The satellite was manufactured by Lockheed Martin Company of the USA for the China Orient Telecom Satellite Company. The satellite has 24 transponders in the C- and Ku band each. Its designed service life is 15 years.
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Betty C. Alewine, President and CEO of Comsat Corporation said "Although we believe that some provisions of this measure are unnecessary and restrictive, this proposal clearly provides a more balanced approach than the bill passed in May by the House.
"Significantly, the House measure's provision that would terminate Comsat's existing customer contracts is absent from this bill, and justifiably so. In its recent decision granting Comsat non-dominant status, the FCC reviewed these contracts and concluded that they do not impede competition. We also welcome the proposal to require the same regulatory treatment for all satellite providers.
While this legislation includes many positive improvements over the House-passed measure, we remain concerned about some provisions of this bill. One of these provisions could actually create an incentive for Comsat's competitors to slow the pace of privatisation for Intelsat and Inmarsat, hoping to force the U.S. to withdraw from these organisations. In addition, the provision requiring direct access to the Intelsat facilities owned by Comsat is not needed and should be removed from this measure."
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Sky Digital systems--dish, set-top box and remote control--will retail for £199.99 for new customers and £159.99 for existing customers. [At a rough guess, buyers would have to pay twice that much in the absence of any subsidies.] There will be a low cost finance deal available for as little as £5.99 per month.
The first of the set-top box manufacturers, Pace, is now in production. The other manufacturers--Amstrad, Grundig and Matsushita--will follow shortly. Booth said Sky expects there will be at least 200,000 boxes with the retailers for the Christmas selling period.
Sky will offer a professional installation service that will save customers up to 100 pounds. Booth noted that "Our research has shown that by removing installation costs people are four times as likely to make a purchase."
He continued: "There will be a significant cost to Sky--dependent on the speed of take up in the first couple of years--but we believe that the long term financial impact of this strategy is to increase our profit and cash flows. This strategy will establish Sky Digital in the market ahead of the competition with the aim of securing a 50% share of the industry-estimated 12 million pay TV homes by 2003."
On the programming side, BSkyB said it had secured cable and satellite exclusivity for Viacom channels including MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, adding to Sky's existing deals with Flextech and UKTV.
Pricing details for the various packages that will be available are to be announced, but Booth said that "we will be able to offer services for less than 10 pounds per month--significantly cheaper than in analogue."
The announcement has resulted in the price of BSkyB shares drop almost ten percent this afternoon as most analysts see BSkyB's 1999 pre-tax profits below £300 million. For 1998, £282 million are expected. The final results will be announced in August.
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Nickelodeon, which describes itself as "the world-wide entertainment brand for kids," and Hungarian Broadcasting Corp. will launch a daily one-and-one-half hour branded block of Nickelodeon programming on HBCO's MSAT TV station on August 1, 1998.
Star Choice, which describes itself as "Canada's leading direct-to-home (DTH) digital satellite television company," announced that it has surpassed the 100,000 subscriber mark ahead of schedule.
PanAmSat Corporation announced that Deutsche Welle, Germany's international broadcasting service, has selected PanAmSat's PAS-5 Atlantic Ocean Region satellite for the delivery of digital video and audio programming to the Americas. The service, which is scheduled to start August 1, will originate from PanAmSat's Europe-based platform for digital broadcast transmissions over PAS-5.
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