Sat-ND, 18.11.1997 Are friends electric?
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Russia launches photo satellite
Short circuits in space
Can satellite orbits be patented?
DELAY OF THE DAY
NASA's dress rehearsal
LAW & ORDER
HBCO gets satellite license
Keep it in the family
Russia today launched the Earth observation satellite Resurs F1M from its Plesetsk space centre. It was placed into orbit by a Soyuz-U rocket.
During its 25-day mission, Resurs will make pictures of the Earth's surface from an altitude of 237 kilometers. After that, a landing capsule containing the camera will separate from the spacecraft and return to the ground. The pictures "will be used by various branches of Russian economy," Itar-Tass said.
The rest of the 6.3-tonnes satellite satellite will burn up re-entering the atmosphere. The first satellite in the series was launched in September 1979 and the latest in August 1993.
Resurs-F1M is only the sixth civilian satellite to be launched by Russia this year, highlighting the desperate state of the country's space industry. Sources at the Russian Space Agency said they had to almost halve the number of launches because of insufficient financing. The space industry has received only 55 percent of the (financial) resources requested, reported Itar-Tass.
Here's something the U.S. military may not be too enthusiastic about: commercial space-based imaging takes to the Middle East, thanks to two Indian satellites.
U.S. company Space Imaging EOSAT, which claims to be the world's leading provider of high-resolution Earth information products and services, has entered into an agreement with a group of United Arab Emirates (UAE) investors to form a company that for the first time will provide high-resolution space imagery to the Middle East. Called DSI-Dubai Space Imaging, the company will in adddition be providing training in imagery analysis and geographic information systems (GIS) tools and applications.
Middle East customers will have fast access to timely, detailed imagery of the region collected locally by a reception station in the UAE. The new station will receive imagery from the Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) imaging satellites IRS-1C and IRS-1D which provide imagery with a resolution of five metres the highest available on the commercial market today.
DSI-Dubai Space Imaging plans to upgrade its imagery receiving station in the future to collect and process higher resolution imagery from other commercial satellite sources as they become available.
Space Imaging EOSAT collects and distributes imagery derived from the Indian IRS satellites, the U.S. Landsat satellites, the Canadian Space Agency's RADARSAT, Japan's JERS, and the European Space Agency's ERS satellites. The company will launch the world's first commercial one-meter resolution satellite, IKONOS 1, in March, 1998.
Primestar officials have admitted that "there's obviously cause for some concern" as their new direct broadcast satellite Tempo has meanwhile suffered three power outages the last one of which occurred just two weeks ago.
But: "We're not overly concerned," Dan O'Brien, the president-COO of Primestar Inc. was quoted as saying. Tempo is currently subject to a new round of in-orbit tests which will stretch to November 24. The causes for the recurring malfunctions aren't known yet but experts reportedly said they might be related to the design of the satellite, especially its solar panels. The satellite was built by Space Systems/Loral, the solar arrays were supplied by Germany's DASA.
In addition, three of the bird's 24 transponders have been zapped in the wake of a solar event last spring. Not really a problem for Primestar, though. The company plans to launch a high-power service on Tempo next June, provided it gets green light from the U.S. government to take over ASkyB's assets, including the 119-degrees West slot. The license allows the use of only eleven transponders from that orbital position which has to be shared with EchoStar.
But even if there's enough capacity, the prospect of a satellite with recurring power outages might not attract potential subscribers to a new DBS service. In addition, they might shorten its operational life.
Apparently the answer is "yes." Mobile Communications Holdings, Inc., which is building the Ellipso satellite-based mobile communications system, has been granted a second patent by the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office that protects its orbital design for non-communications use.
Patent regulators said Ellipso's elliptical orbital design, which maximises coverage of high-population areas with just a few satellites, could have wide application in fields beyond telecommunication, including navigation, earth observation and weather forecasting.
Ellipso's said in a statement its orbital architecture was "unique in that its sun-synchronous orbits allow the satellites to spend more time during daylight hours over high population areas. Unlike typical circular orbits, Ellipso's inclined and equatorial elliptical orbits put more communications capacity on the ground where and when it is needed most.
"MCHI is currently building the 17-satellite Ellipso network, a licensed Big LEO satellite system, which will provide low-cost telephony using a constellation of satellites in innovative inclined and equatorial elliptical orbits. Initial Ellipso service, including digital voice, fax and positioning data services from handheld, vehicle-mounted and fixed-site telecommunications equipment, is expected to begin in the year 2000."
Ellipso Web site: http://www.ellipso.com/
The launch of NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) spacecraft has been postponed following a glitch with an onboard clock during a dress rehearsal for the launch which was to take place today.
TRMM is now scheduled for launch no earlier than Friday, November 21 at 3:40 p.m. EST aboard a Japanese H-II rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. The launch window extends for approximately two-hours.
Over the next couple days engineers will continue to test and analyse the observatory and the ground support system. The onboard clock serves as "master" clock, synchronising other onboard clocks. The unit has a backup which can take over its functions, if necessary.
TRMM is the first Earth science observatory dedicated to studying the properties of tropical and subtropical rainfall, which make up more than two-thirds of global rainfall. Another important science goal of TRMM is to study how El Niño-related rainfall anomalies correlate with other oceanic and atmospheric processes.
The TRMM project is part of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth enterprise, a long-term, coordinated research effort to study the total Earth system and the effects of natural and human-induced changes on the global environment.
TRMM Web site: http://trmm.gsfc.nasa.gov/
Hungarian Broadcasting Corp. has been granted (through its wholly owned Hungarian subsidiary) a national television broadcasting license for its satellite operations.
The license was granted by ORTT, the national television regulatory authority. It permits the Company to transmit its digital broadcasting signal unscrambled. Accordingly, small cable television companies and direct-to-home customers can receive the satellite broadcast transmissions using an inexpensive, basic set-top box. [Hmm... has anybody seen something like that in Europe yet?]
HBCO chairman Peter E. Klenner estimated that the elimination of scrambling could induce 150 to 200 additional cable companies to carry HBCO's Hungarian channel, MSAT. Currently, 396 cable television companies carry HBCO's broadcasts. Over the next year, these small cable operators and a growing direct-to-home market could expand the Company's technical reach to more than 60% of the television households in Hungary.
By Dr Sarmaz
With BSkyB group finance director Richard Brooke, the last of the senior executives who led the company in its early years of development have left. BSkyB shares dropped 2.1 percent in early trade.
Earlier, chief executive Sam Chisholm and deputy David Chance left the company which is currently preparing roll-out of its digital TV services. Both Chisholm and Chance quoted health reasons for their departure. I wouldn't have mentioned all this hadn't there the following press release been issued today:
"@Entertainment today announced that Mr. Samuel Chisholm and Mr. David Chance will become directors of @Entertainment, Inc. effective January 1, 1998.
"@Entertainment, Inc. operates the largest multichannel pay television business in Poland, which served approximately 718,000 subscribers at quarter end. The company intends to expand its activities and develop a complementary digital satellite direct-to-home broadcasting service with its own branded platform of proprietary Polish-language programming."
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. named James Murdoch, 24, as president of News America Digital Publishing. The newly formed unit will consolidate all of News Corp.'s electronic operations.
News America Digital Publishing will comprise the TV Guide Entertainment Network, Fox News On-Line, Fox Sports On-Line, News Internet Services and Advanced Media Group, a business and development unit for new technologies.
James Murdoch is according to the Wall Street Journal the most technologically savvy of Mr. Murdoch's children and has taken an early interest in the company's on-line activities. His brother, Lachlan Murdoch, is chief executive officer of News Ltd. in Australia, and his sister, Elisabeth Murdoch, is general manager of BSkyB in which Mr Murdoch's News Corp. holds a 40 percent stake.
At the COMDEX computer show, IBM together with Delco Electronics, Netscape Communications Corp. and Sun Microsystems presented an "Internet Car." Boring!
In its "Loony bits" section, Sat-ND reported on April 29 that Silicon Valley engineers working for German carmaker Daimler-Benz designed a Mercedes E420 that gives passengers and even the driver full Internet access. It was demonstrated at the Tokyo Auto show last month.
And now, IBM reportedly demonstrated a car that lets drivers surf the Internet, catch up on e-mail, get navigation help and drive at the same time. They will make heavy use of IBM's renowned voice recognition software so that the user can for instance verbally request the computer to read aloud e- mail messages in a safe manner that does not interfere with driving.
Interestingly, IBM's "Network Vehicle" accesses the Internet via a satellite connection, using Hughes Electronics DirecTV and DirecPC satellite services. (What a coincidence that Hughes Electronics is a subsidiary of carmaker General Motors. Shall we call this synergy?) Even though the car includes an integrated cellular phone, a touch-screen colour flat panel, comes with Netscape Communicator and is even Java-enabled(!), that does not get to me at all.
I'll be impressed when the first Internet-enabled mountain bike is introduced.
Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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