Sat-ND, 9.1.97

Sat-ND 97-01-09 - Satellite and Media News

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Today's launch of the first three IRIDIUM satellites by a McDonnell Douglas
Delta II rocket has again been postponed, this time owing to a problem
encountered during the launch countdown. The problem involves the loss of a
vital data microwave link to U.S. Air Force range instrumentation. The Air
Force is currently working to resolve the problem. The launch date is now
scheduled for Friday, January 10, 1997 at 5:35 a.m. Pacific Standard Time from
Space Launch Complex-2 (SLC-2) at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, USA.
The first three IRIDIUM satellites are part of a 66 satellite wireless personal
communications network designed to permit any type of telephone transmission --
voice, data, fax, and paging -- to reach its destination virtually anywhere in
the world at any time. The IRIDIUM system is planned to be the first
operational network enabling subscribers to make or receive calls over
hand-held wireless telephones and pagers world-wide.
Motorola's Satellite Communications Group is the prime contractor for the
IRIDIUM system. The IRIDIUM system is owned by Iridium LLC, an international
consortium of 17 investor organisations representing leading telecommunications
and industrial companies world-wide.

Intelsat today signed a contract with Matra Marconi Space for the purchase of a
Ku-band satellite for use in the Asia-Pacific region at 95E (Sat-ND,
The new, high-power spacecraft will be known as K-TV (no, that's _not_ KY-TV.)
It is specifically designed to meet growing regional demand for direct-to-home
video (DTH) and multimedia applications. Equipped with 30 Ku-band transponders,
K-TV will be able to deliver up to 210 digitally compressed TV channels. 
Besides, the satellite will provide fixed beams over India and China and
switchable beams covering Indonesia, Malaysia and other areas in the
Asia-Pacific region.
Irving Goldstein, Director General and Chief Executive Officer of INTELSAT,
stated that "there is a clear requirement for additional Ku-band capacity among
INTELSAT Signatories and other customers in the Asia-Pacific region." He added
that "video services have represented a growing portion of Intelsat's revenues
for a number of years, making this purchase a solid commercial decision."
The K-TV contract is valued at approximately US$100 million. The spacecraft
will be delivered in late 1998. A decision on a launch services provider is
expected in March 1997.

The AMSC lawsuit has been voluntarily dismissed, for the time being. Spar
Aerospace Ltd. of Canada and various insurers of AMSC Subsidiary Corp. as well
as Lockheed Martin Corp. have agreed to discuss the matter -- a malfunction of
the AMSC 1 communications satellite (101W) that reduces its capacity by 15
percent -- by June 1, 1997. The agreement is without prejudice to the parties
involved and includes the plaintiffs' right to re-file the complaint. They had
originally asked for US$135 million in damages, claiming that the capacity
shortage was due to "certain defects in the communications payload supplied by

The European Space Agency ESA today issued its tentative timetable for 1997.
Here are some events, i.e. launches that may be of interest.
* January 
28: Ariane-4 flight 93 (V93), launch of GE2 and NAHUEL 1A.
* February
13: STS-82/HST-2 (Hubble Space Telescope second servicing mission), 10 days.
end: Ariane-4 flight 94 (V94), launch of INTELSAT 801.
* March
t.b.c.: Ariane-4 flight 95 (V95), launch of THAICOM 3.
27: Launch of STS-83/ Microgravity Science Lab with reflight of ESA payload. 
* April
Mid: Ariane-4 flight 96 (V96), launch of PAS 6.
* May
15-24: STS-84, Shuttle/Mir mission with ESA astronaut J-F. Clervoy on board.
* July
t.b.c (8?) -- Second Ariane 5 qualification flight (A502).
t.b.c. -- Ariane-4 flight, launch of Meteosat Transition Programme (MTP)
* September
10: Launch of STS-86, including ARP payload (third and last demo flight).
* October 
6: Launch of Cassini/Huygens from KSC in Florida, USA on a Titan IV launcher.
* November
27: Launch of the first International Space Station element, the Russian
Cargo Block, on a Russian Proton launcher.
t.b.c.: Third Ariane 5 qualification flight (A503)
As ESA pointed out, dates of certain events, especially those related to
launches, very much depend on various factors such as readiness of spacecraft
and of launcher, etc. and thus remain t.b.c (to be confirmed) for quite some

(I'm almost out of headlines for this topic.) Talking to the Bangkok post,
Thailand's prime minister has given new details of an anticipated deal with the
United States that is to replace an indigenous spy satellite. Following the
governments decision to shelve the project (Sat-ND, 8.1.96,) the prime minister
now expects the U.S. to offer free use of an American satellite. The paper
quoted Chavalit Yongchaiyudh as saying he expects the U.S. to launch one of its
four reserve satellites.

As all three of the new generation INMARSAT 3 satellites are in their
respective geostationary orbits (F1: 63.7E, F2: 15.8W, F3: 157.2E,) it's
time to exploit their enhanced capabilities -- especially the high-powered spot
beam. The technology allows for an almost revolutionary reduction in size of
the antenna for INMARSAT 3 users although this applies to certain regions of
the world only.
Comsat Personal Communications, the business unit of Comsat Corporation, has
launched Planet 1, "the world's first global personal satellite phone service"
according to a press release. Planet 1 offers secure personal voice, fax and
data communications from a portable, notebook-sized phone, at an estimated cost
of US$3 per minute. The phone, which retails for about US$3,000, is expected to
appeal to international travellers and those who work in areas without reliable
telephone or cellular service.
The new service is immediately available in Africa, the Middle East, Russia,
Europe, South America, and Asia (including Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, China
and India). The service is scheduled to cover the globe by summer 1997.
Comsat Corporation is not only a global provider of communications services and
products but also known as the USA's Intelsat signatory.

Space is definitely a safer place than the Earth. At least, it's a safer place
than Russia's Institute of Medical and Biological Problems in Moscow. Even the
Institute's name sounds a bit obscure, although that may just be owing to the
translation provided by the news agency Itar-Tass.
Anyway, as Sat-ND has (for a change) not reported, Russia had recently sent two
monkeys on a two-week space flight. Both returned unharmed last Tuesday. One of
them, called Multik, didn't survive those specialists for Medical and
Biological Problems, however. He died when they tried to take samples of muscle
and bone cells, whereas his co-cosmonaut Lapik went through the operation well.
"A team of Russian, U.S. and French physicians failed to revive the monkey,"
Itar-Tass reported. Reportedly, Multik died of a heart attack.
By the way: Boris Yeltsin is feeling better after being taken to hospital
yesterday for pneumonia.

It's not a real surprise when you are prosecuted for a Web page that offers
material considered illegal in your country. It may be a surprise, however,
that you may by punished for providing a simple link to such material on your
home page.
German judicial authorities seem to be willing to demonstrate their unequivocal
incompetence once more as far as the Internet is concerned. The deputy
chairwoman of the socialist party PDS Angela Marquardt will soon be taken to
court for "distributing" parts of a banned publication on-line. At least,
that's what ignorant prosecutors claim although she didn't.
Actually, something very different had happened. Marquardt had provided just a
link to Radikal magazine, an underground publication by and targeted at the
autonomous left, as additional information on a page that featured a petition
in protest against legal action taken against Radikal. Her page was not stored
on a German server but at CompuServe, Ohio, USA. The incriminated link on that
page pointed to a Web page set up by citizen of the Nethrlands (where the
magazine is not banned.)
Although banned in Germany, Radikal was (and is) available through
http://www.xs4all.nl/~tank/radikal/, a site hosted by one of the biggest
Internet service providers in the Netherlands -- despite German efforts to
censor the site.
The affair produced two results. Firstly, sites all over the world started
mirroring the incriminated Radikal pages after some German Internet providers
had removed XS4ALL from their name servers following some legal advice by a
somewhat strained solicitor (Sat-ND, 13.9.96. Prosecutors will find an
excessive list more Radikal links there -- do help yourself, go ahead and sue
Secondly, CompuServe almost immediately cancelled Marquardt's CompuServe home
page. It is now available at http://www.yi.com/home/MarquardtAngela/index.htm,
albeit just in German. 
Funnily enough, you can also read the prosecutor's filing against Marquardt
there which includes just those incriminated parts of Radikal describing
assaults on railway lines in order to hamper controversial transports of atomic
waste while at the same time strictly avoiding to harm humans. That's what the
fuss is all about, by the way. 

FEEDBACK: Sat-ND, 8.1.96
"Unfortunately you seem to be misinformed about Internet via satellite," wrote
Jack Buechler, who is responsible for services distributed via ORION 1
Sorry, I'm neither informed nor misinformed. I just try to compile what may be
of interest to my readers. As far as Internet access via GEO satellites is
concerned, I do not have any experience because my efforts to get hold of some
equipment for test purposes, e.g. a DirecPC card for EUTELSAT, so far have
failed. (Just send me some, pleeze!)
Publishing Jack's interesting comment would take up too much space here. So I
decided to put it on my Web site along with some links that may explain my
concerns. (Please note: Those were just concerns, no claims.) 
So, read it and decide for yourself. Should you have any comments or even some
experience in accessing the Internet via satellite, I'd be more than happy to
include your contributions.

Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.

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