Sat-ND, 24.9.1997 Blood makes noise
Until further notice, Sat-ND will be issued sporadically rather than daily.
Using the 100th Ariane launch vehicle, Arianespace launched Intelsat 803 yesterday. It is the 16th satellite Intelsat has entrusted to the European launcher a number which represents half of all satellites (16 out of 32) launched by the International telecommunications Satellite Organisation, Intelsat.
In a statement, Arianespace said flight 100 was a major milestone that reflected
Arianespace's complete operational mastery of its launch system, as shown by the 40 satellites placed into orbit by 29 successful launches during the last 30 months a record.
The maturity of the industrial partnership established by the European aerospace industry, with 140 launchers ordered to date.
The commercial success of the world's first space transportation company, with 180 launch service contracts signed since 1980.
Arianespace controls up to 60 percent of the international market for launching commercial satellites. Flight 100 was carried out by an Ariane 42L, the version of the European launcher with two liquid propellant boosters. It used the 71st Ariane 4 out of the 96 ordered to date from the European space industry.
To commemorate the 100th launch, European space officials searched Europe for girls named Ariane who were born on the date of the first Ariane launch on December 24, 1979. They found just three: one from the Netherlands, one from Britain and one from Spain. So, 13 other girls born close to the date were also flown to French Guiana to watch the launch.
Intelsat 803 is the third spacecraft in the eighth generation of satellites operated by the International telecommunications Satellite Organization. Built by Lockheed Martin Telecommunications in New Jersey (USA) the 3.4-ton satellite features a number of technical innovations, including two steerable C-band spot beams, interconnection between C- and Ku-bands, satellite news gathering (SNG) services and compatibility with satellites from the Intelsat VII and VII-A series. To be positioned at 21.5 degrees West over the Atlantic Ocean, it will provide telecommunications services to Africa, Europe, and North and South America.
The next Arianespace launch, Flight 102, is scheduled for November 4. An Ariane 44L launch vehicle will be used to place into orbit two Direct-to-home television satellites, Sirius 2 for the Scandinavian countries and Cakrawarta 1 for Indonesia.
After Flight 100, Arianespace has 43 satellites on order to be launched.
The European and French space agencies, ESA and CNES, said in a joint statement that the crucial test flight for the new European Ariane 5 launcher will be delayed until at least October 15.
The agencies said that "The verification process relating to analysis of the launcher's control loop has taken longer than expected. Moreover, final qualification of the flight program software will require two additional weeks to complete. For these reasons, the launch campaign for the second Ariane-5 qualification flight at Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, is being put on hold from 26 September, aiming at a launch on 15 October 1997 at the earliest. The campaign will be resumed seven days before launch, with the filling of the upper stage.
"The Launcher Countdown Rehearsal performed in Kourou earlier in September gave good results. Meanwhile, the qualification process continued in Europe, where computer programs that simulate the real flight conditions of Ariane 502 indicated a risk of oscillation that could increase the consumption of the oil that feeds the displacing actuators used to steer the main engine. To lower the risk of unwanted oscillations on this specific flight, two activities are being conducted in parallel: a:verification of the validity of the data used in the mathematical model that simulates flight b:introduction of a corrective measure using a filter to eliminate unwanted oscillations.
"Incorporating this filter, contained in an electronic box fitted in the main stage, would entail additional qualification tests that would put the target launch date back by a further one or two weeks.
"The choice of course of action and a decision on a new target date for the second test flight of Ariane 5 are expected to be confirmed early in October."
A Russian military satellite and an American experimental spacecraft were launched aboard a Kosmos-3M rocket from the Russian Plesetsk cosmodrome.
As usual, there's not much known about the Russian Kosmos satellite some sources say it was a spy satellite because they obviously expect every Russian satellite to be just that. Other sources said the latest Kosmos served military communications purposes. Anyway, it was small enough to allow the U.S. satellite FAIsat 2B (or 2V, if you think of the B as a Cyrillic letter, which it probably isn't ;-) to join Kosmos as a travel companion.
FAIsat 2B and its problems have been covered in Sat-ND quite prominently, so instead of repeating all that stuff here are some details about a subsystem of the satellite called VITAsat. VITA stands for Volunteers in Technical Assistance, a non-profit international development organisation. It has provided technical information and assistance to individuals and organisations in developing countries since 1959.
VITAsat is a secondary payload in FAIsat 2B constructed by Final Analysis Inc. of Maryland. It will pass over every spot on Earth at least four times each day and, through strategically located gateways to the Internet, it will become the world's first truly global e-mail system, VITA said in a press release.
The VITAsat gateway station to the Internet at the Andoya Rocket Range in Norway is being used temporarily for satellite space control that will later be switched to a Final Analysis station in Logan, Utah. After a short period the Norway station will be available for connection of VITAsat traffic to the Internet. A second gateway to the Internet at the University of Cape Town in South Africa will become operational in the coming year.
As the owner of the FCC Pioneer's Preference, VITA has experimented with low Earth orbiting satellites for developing country communications since 1984. Its prototype satellite was launched in 1990 and was used by many non-government organizations at 24 Earth stations in 14 countries until the satellite failed about six months ago. Since then, VITA has been able to transfer some traffic to PoSat-1, a low Earth orbiting satellite owned by Consortio Sat, a Portuguese firm.
China Great Wall Industry Corporation signed a contract today Loral Space and Communications Co. of the United States on launching a US-made telecommunications satellite that will serve China and its neighbouring countries.
According to China Telecommunications Broadcast Satellite Corp (Chinasat,) their Chinasat-8 satellite will be carried on a Chang Zheng (Long March) 3B rocket, China's most powerful, in the fourth quarter of 1998. Details on insurance and launch costs have not been finalised.
Scheduled to be launched in the fourth quarter of 1998, Chinasat-8 is expected to begin operations in 1999, providing video, data and digital voice communication services for China's private and public communications networks. It is equipped with 53 (fifty-three) transponders, 36 of which use the C-band and the others the Ku-band. After being launched into the orbit, the satellite will be transferred to and operated by the China Telecommunications and Broadcasting Satellite Company.
The Sea Launch Assembly and Command Ship "Sea Launch Commander" was formally named at the Kvaerner Govan Shipyard, Glasgow, Scotland, by Mrs. Bobbie Cromer, wife of Mr. Don Cromer, Chairman of Hughes Space & Communications International, Inc., of Los Angeles, USA.
That's of course the least interesting part of a press release issued by Boeing Co. Why did Mrs Hughes, er... Cromer christen the vessel? Hughes Space & Communications has contracted with Sea Launch for no less than 13 launches. The first mission will be in the autumn of 1998 when the first of Hughes' latest model communications satellites (an HS 702) is to be launched into geostationary orbit. The satellite will be part of the PanAmSat satellite network a subsidiary of Hughes.
Sea Launch, a multi-national sea-based commercial satellite launching venture, comprises two unique vessels:
the mentioned Assembly & Command Ship, which is nearing completion of fitting out at Kvaerner Govan, Glasgow, and
the Launch Platform, a converted oil drilling rig, currently at Kvaerner Vyborg Shipyard JSC, Russia, where rocket launching equipment is being installed.
The Sea Launch joint venture partners include Kvaerner ASA (Oslo, Norway,) Boeing Commercial Space Co. (Seattle, USA,) RSC-Energia (Moscow, Russia,) and KB-Yuzhnoye/PO- Yuzhmash (Ukraine).
So, how does the system work? During transit to the launch site along the equator near Christmas Island, the rocket is carried in what's described as an environmentally controlled hangar. Rocket fuel sufficient for each mission is carried in special safe storage facilities on board. Specially designed mobile transporter/erector systems will roll out the rocket and erect it into the launch position immediately prior to fuelling and launch. [If I just had some more time, I would've certainly written some ludicrous comment about those erection facilities.] Living, dining and recreation facilities are provided for 20 personnel, who, during the launch itself, will withdraw to Sea Launch Commander, with the Launch Platform under fully remote control.
Construction of the 34,000 ton Sea Launch Commander began in 1996 at the Kvaerner Govan shipyard on Glasgow's River Clyde. It will serve as a floating rocket assembly factory while in port and as mission command centre during launch operations at sea. In addition to crew accommodations, Sea Launch Commander provides comfortable quarters for up to 50 customer launch team members and includes communications, administration and entertainment facilities.
Not week passes without Iridium launch or launch announcement, therefore I'm a bit confused about whether I already mentioned this or not. A Boeing Delta II will launch five Iridium system satellites on Friday, Sept. 26 at 6:23:36 p.m. PDT from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), California, USA. A live feed of the launch and launch commentary will be available on SBS-6, Transponder 15 from 6:00 7:00 p.m. PDT.
The launch of the highly controversial Cassini-Huygens mission aboard a Titan IVB, originally slated for October 6, has been rescheduled.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft with the European Space Agency's Huygens probe on-board has been rescheduled for Monday 13 October with a new launch window that opens at 4.55 a.m. and closes at 7.15 a.m. (EDT) corresponding to 10.55-13.15 European Time.
The European and the French space agencies said in a joint statement that "The reason for the delay in the Cassini-Huygens launch has been the time needed for reworking the thermal insulation inside the Huygens probe, which had been damaged by a wrongly adjusted air-flow of the cooling system, following the integration of Cassini-Huygens onto the launcher."
The mission will set some new world (space?) records: not only is it the most expensive one US$3.4 billion. With 5,670kg, it's the also the heaviest ever. And it carries almost 33kg of plutonium aboard, a highly radioactive and extremely toxic material, more than any other space probe before. The plutonium is needed to generate electricity, something that (up to now) cannot be achieved by using solar panels on interplanetary missions. You guessed it: the sun is just too far away. Instead, the heat generated by the natural radioactive decay of the plutonium is converted into energy.
Anti-nuclear activists have threatened to use all non-violent means possible to stop or at least disrupt the launch of Cassini. They worry that in the event of an accident, deadly plutonium could be showered on Earth. For that reason, security measures around Kennedy Space Center and especially around Launch Complex 40 were stepped up. In an unusual move for a rocket launch, the Air Force station went into "Threatcon Alpha" on August 8, which means heightened security conditions to counteract possible terrorism.
Even NASA statistics say there's 1-in-1,400 chance of an accident during the first 3.5 minutes of the launch that would cause a plutonium release, and a 1-in-476 chance of such an accident during the rest of the launch. On the other hand: three out of the 23 U.S. space missions that involved plutonium ended with a crash that's 1 in 8. The chance of Cassini re-entering the atmosphere during an Earth flyby in 1999 and releasing plutonium is less than 1-in-1 million, according to NASA statistics.
Although NASA officials expect at most a third of the radioactive material to be set free in a worst-case scenario, it will nevertheless mean that up to 5 billion humans get in contact with it, with the result of up 2,300 deaths caused by cancer over the next 50 years. It's up to you to decide whether a few pictures from a cold and lonely Saturn moon are really worth taking that risk.
Orbital Imaging Corporation (Orbimage), the Earth-imaging subsidiary of Orbital Sciences Corporation announced that its OrbView-2 satellite and ground system were now fully operational, ready to provide imaging services to the scientific community and to commercial users and other government customers.
At a scientific briefing conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at the Goddard Space Flight Center , the first multi-spectral (colour) images of the Earth's ocean and land surfaces acquired by OrbView-2's Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) instrument were unveiled to the scientific community, one of Orbimage's initial markets for imagery sales. (Cf. Online Some URLs.)
NASA will use OrbView-2 imagery as part of its Mission to Planet Earth initiative to better understand the Earth's carbon cycle process and its effect on global warming trends. The data will also assist climate researchers in studying the El Nino warm water current in the Pacific Ocean that is expected to have significant effects on U.S. weather patterns in the coming months. [Very trendy indeed.]
OrbView-2 was launched aboard Orbital's Pegasus XL rocket on August 1. Orbimage is offering a 90-day free access period to conduct demonstration programs for prospective customers. Once the trial period expires on Dec. 17, 1997, OrbView-2 imagery downlinks will be encoded and will require an access license from Orbimage to directly downlink the data.
Mexican broadcast rivals Televisa and TV Azteca as well as Mexican cable company Multivision may join forces to get hold of the country's satellite system, newspapers reported.
The companies will be part of a consortium comprising Mexican silver mining company Industrias Penoles and Hughes subsidiary PanAmSat, which have recently teamed up to make their bid (foreign companies are required to have a domestic partner as they will not be allowed to own more than 49 percent of SatMex.)
As reported earlier [yawn!] the Mexican government is selling off 60 percent of Satelites Mexicanos (SatMex), with the winning bidder getting an option to take an additional 15 percent stake. The remainder will be traded on the Mexican stock exchange.
The winner is expected to be announced by November 7. The other two bidders are
U.S.-based Loral Space & Communications (LOR), Mexico's Telefonica Autrey (ATY.MX) and French company Alcatel;
GE American Communications, a subsidiary of General Electric Co (GE), Megacable and Grupo Villacero.
Believe this story or not it appeared in the daily Alsbua newspaper.
The Saudi billionaire fugitive Qsama bin Laden[!], who is living in the remote mountains of Afghanistan[!] with the fundamentalist Taleban militias, has signed an agreement with a Dutch company to rent a TV channel for the coming five years to broadcast Islamic programs for 10 hours per day. [I don't have any proof but I guess we're talking about some Eutelsat transponder here. Yet more entertainment for European satellite viewers?]
Television channel NBC Asia said it had reached more than three million homes in India during its first year of broadcasting on the sub-continent.
Obviously, that applies to the full year and not to a day, a week, or a month. Achal Mehra, the firm's assistant vice president in charge of distribution told a news conference he expected to end up with "with 80 percent distribution in the top 23 cities and be in four million homes by the end of the year."
NBC Asia broadcasts its CNBC business news channel and the NBC business and information channel in India. It plans to launch several new India-specific shows on both channels early next month.
NBC also plans to offer a raft of entertainment serials, comedies and talk shows.Officials said they had no plans to dub American serials in Indian languages, as competing satellite channels already .
Hungaria's Duna TV offers two domestic news shows a day on
the Internet, utilising Real Video, as well as access to its
Declassified pictures, once taken by U.S. spy satellites,
have been available on the World Wide Web for some time. Now,
they're presented in a more popular style almost like a James
Bond movie. Well
The first pictures and data sets collected by the
Sea-Viewing Wide Field-of-View instrument aboard Orbview 2 are
available at the SeaWiFS Web
09.97 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De.
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