Sat-ND, 23.11.1997 ...can't trust that day
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Or: Murphy's law in practice
Published in two parts under "A case of spontaneous hibernation," Sat-ND, 20.11.97 and "Soho revived, Spartan to be launched," 21.11.97.
Soon after the sun-observing satellite Spartan was released from the space shuttle Columbia on Friday, it became clear that something had somehow gone wrong.
The satellite was supposed to perform a pirouette within 90 seconds after the launch to demonstrate its systems were working. The satellite didn't, and from then things went really wrong. In case of malfunction, flight rules call for recapturing the satellite but that didn't work either.
Columbia's 50-foot robot arm would not latch onto the satellite. When finally pulled back, the arm by accident sent the craft into a 2-degree per second spin. Spartan's exact status remained unknown. Engineers believe some systems were working because the telescope door opened following the satellite's release. Mission Control commentator Rob Navias: "However, whether the satellite can right itself so that it can stop its rotational spin or whether or not it is a dead satellite in orbit is not known at this point."
NASA has decided to attempt to recapture Spartan tomorrow. Mission operations director Lee Briscoe: "I'm very confident we'll just go up and pick this thing up and put it back down and bring it home," he said.
Two astronauts will try to grab the satellite with their outstretched arms from opposite sides of the shuttle's payload bay. This requires exact navigation as the shuttle will have to be brought within a meter or so of the satellite. That should be at least as spectacular as the recapturing on an Intelsat satellite a few years ago watch out for it on NASA TV. Don't worry if you can't receive it, the manoeuvre will probably be shown on every TV channel around the world.
To be continued.
Mission Details: Columbia Mission Journal
Or: German banks invest in Chinese satellites
China is striving to have the capability of exporting entire satellites by the year of 2000, revealed China Daily. Breaking the "U.S. stranglehold on the Chinese satellite market," as state-owned news agency Xinhua preferred to put it, is not quite as simple as it may sound. It seems as though not only the technology but also the money will come from Europe.
Just don't ask me why those silly Europeans don't do it on their own and why they need communist China. Of course, China is capable of building satellites such as Dongfanghong which may work well for domestic purposes. They don't measure up to international standards, though. Hua Chongzhi, vice-director of the International Co-operation Department of China Aerospace Corporation (CASC) consequently admits that China currently only exports some satellite spare parts.
So how can China export full-blown communications satellites? It can't, actually not without foreign help. The whole story started three years ago when CASC and Germany's Daimler Benz Aerospace (DASA) set up a Munich-based joint venture by the name of EurasSpace on a 50:50 basis.
The first product of EurasSpace, a satellite by the name of Sinosat 1, was recently delivered (Sat-ND, 5.11.97.) Is is to be launched aboard a Chang Zheng 3B rocket from Xichang, China, in early 1998. With an operational life span of 15 years, Sinosat 1 has 24 C-band and 14 Ku-band transponders that will cover the whole of China and Southeast Asia.
Technology from France, money from Germany
According to Cyrille Gosset, Aerospatiale's satellite representative in China, the French state-owned company's satellite technology keeps up with that of its American competitors. Sinosat 1 was manufactured mainly by France's Aerospatiale utilising their Spacebus 3000 platform (and a few parts from DASA's subsidiary Dornier Satelliten-Systeme [DSS].)
Nonetheless, nearly 90 percent of the funding was (through EurasSpace) provided by German banks. EurasSpace is also responsible for launch services, the ground station; and "risk management" (which probably means insurance.)
According to Hua Chongzi, this is just the beginning of a wonderful friendship: EurasSpace aims at becoming a prime contractor for developing, manufacturing and delivering all types of commercial satellites.
Separately, Sat-ND has recently learned that German satellite manufacturers, which currently are providing more or less just spare parts like their Chinese counterparts, may be in for a bit more such as orders for complete communications payloads from customers yet to be identified.
So far, these rumours could not be substantiated as the companies in question did not react to my inquires. Unlike their U.S. rivals, they haven't subscribed to Sat-ND. They can't even be reached by email believe it or not, I had to send faxes. Good heavens! Maybe they'll send their answers before the end of the year.
Or: More Motorola satellites?
There will be yet another revolution in advanced communications satellite, says Essex Corporation on the occasion of having been awarded a contract to perform "design activities" for an advanced satellite constellation.
Iris optoelectronic channelizer-router technology will be used, which is expected to reduce spacecraft power needs and increase communications capacity. This activity may result in a full-scale development to build and test proof-of-principal hardware. Essex said it was discussing arrangements with potential manufacturing partners.
Unfortunately, the company's press release didn't elucidate what that technology was all about, but at least they've got a Web site that explains a bit. As far as I can figure out, it's all about opto-electronic inter-satellite links.
The Web site explains (to whom it may concern) that Iris is "a channelizer and non-blocking reversible switch that uses optoelectronic processing technology to provide a small, low power package at a reasonable cost. It can operate on 10 to 50 signals, each composed of 100 to 500 FDM or CDMA voice grade channels and route these signals to the appropriate buffers for transmission."
Essex satellite communications group supports Motorola's program to develop the Iridium system, performing engineering even on-site at Motorola's SatCom division in Chandler, Arizona.
Mark Borota, Vice President and General Manager of Motorola's Mobile Satellite Systems Division stated that "This award is a result of Essex's past performance on the Iridium System and their history in optoelectronics technology development."
by Dr Sarmaz
Rupert Murdoch commented on the Internet last Friday, saying that it was nice in a way but not a money-maker.
Probably with any real conviction, Mr Murdoch stated that "the Internet is the next big mass medium." The problem is that at least the big guys in the bizniz so far haven't earned any profits: "We've seen Time Warner spend 50-to-100 million dollars on some beautiful sites and they're only beginning to get a little return from advertising," Mr Murdoch told Asian government officials and information technology professionals gathered for the Asia-Pacific Information Technology Summit.
"I maintain that it will be entertainment, sports, and news that will lead and open the mass market, and TV will play a huge role," he added. In addition, he was investing "a few tens of millions of dollars in developing sites to get brand extensions." Not even peanuts, regarding Mr Murdoch's US$ 11 billion News Corp.
Mr Murdoch also announced that satellite technology was ideal for Asia's developing nations (trust him, he's a doctor.) Once the platform was built, the cost of adding additional customers was marginal. "The difficult part will be to provide services that are compelling to customers and can be profitable," Mr Murdoch commented the move from one-way broadcasts to so-called interactivity.
Cf. Sat-ND, 21.11.97.
I knew I would screw it all up when I typed it. Don't ask me why. I just knew it would happen. Me idiot!
It seems that I have given you an incorrect URL of Radio Netherland's home page. Here's the real one:
Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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