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Orbital Sciences Corporation announced that its Pegasus rocket successfully launched NASA's Student Nitric Oxide Explorer (SNOE) satellite, as well as Teledesic LLC's T1 satellite, the world's first commercial Ka-band low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite.
'Pegasus XL' sounds like a ...
The launch originated from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Orbital's L-1011 "Stargazer" carrier aircraft released the Pegasus rocket an altitude of 13 kilometers at a pre-determined location over the Pacific Ocean . After a flight of approximately 10 minutes, Pegasus delivered the SNOE and T1 satellites into their planned orbits at an altitude of approximately 565 kilometers, inclined at 97.7 degrees. Initial communications were with the SNOE satellite were established about an hour after its deployment. Initial communications with the T1 satellite were expected to be established later today.
The SNOE/T1 launch represents the 20th Pegasus mission since the rocket's debut in 1990. In recent years, Orbital has significantly increased the number of Pegasus launches performed each year. In 1997, Pegasus scored perfect marks, successfully conducting five missions for government and commercial customers. The SNOE/T1 launch is the first of eight Pegasus missions scheduled for 1998.
The SNOE spacecraft and its instruments were designed and built by a team of students and engineers at the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. The 114-kg satellite will investigate the effects of energy from the sun and the magnetosphere on the density of nitric oxide in the Earth's upper atmosphere. The extreme variability of nitric oxide may also be important to ozone chemistry in the middle atmosphere. SNOE is the first of three student satellite projects selected to be built under the Student Explorer Demonstration Initiative (STEDI) program.
Teledesic's T1 satellite, previously called the Broadband Advanced Technology satellite (BATSAT), is an experimental satellite designed and built by an Orbital, Teledesic and Boeing team. Known as T1 for Teledesic 1, it is the world's first commercial "Ka" frequency band LEO spacecraft. The T1 satellite is part of Teledesic's ongoing developmental effort to build its global, 288 low-Earth-orbit satellites "Internet-in-the-Sky" network.
Orbital provided the T1 satellite bus, which is based on the company's MicroStar spacecraft platform, and Boeing supplied the payload for the commercial communications satellite. MicroStar has served as the basis for 14 satellites that are currently in orbit, as well as nearly 30 more satellites now in production.
Useless fact: Beethoven incorporated the tune of 'God Save the King' into his 'Battle' Symphony.
Arianespace plans to launch Eutelsat's Hotbird 4 on Friday from the European spaceport in French Guiana.
The launch window for the Ariane-4, which is equipped with two solid fuel strap-on boosters, opens at 2238 UTC and closes at 0007 UTC Saturday. Hotbird 4, built by France's Matra Marconi Space, weighs 2.9 tonnes and is expected to operate for twelve years.
It is designed for direct-to-home television and radio broadcasting throughout Europe, the Middle East and the Mediterranean area, Paris-based Eutelsat said in a statement. The following details are from a text in French, so maybe I didn't get it right. Please correct me if I'm wrong. It seems, however, that the satellite is equipped with a unique feature called "Skyplex" that allows on-board digitising and multiplexing of separately uplinked signals.
So far, the various (up to ten) channels that are broadcast on a single digital transponder have to be collected at the uplink station, digitised, combined ("multiplexed") and are then uplinked to the satellite. Of course, it doesn't matter to those providers who occupy several transponders and may have an uplink station of their own anyway. The new technology should make it easier (and cheaper) for anybody who wants to offer just a few digital channels that don't take up a complete transponder.
Useless fact: One of the reasons marijuana is illegal today because U.S. cotton growers in the 30s lobbied against hemp farmers --they saw it as competition.
It may take quite a while before we will witness the first launch of a Chinese rocket from Florida or California. It could happen, though.
U.S. congressman Dave Weldon from Florida is urging the Air Force to allow foreign launch service providers to utilise the military spaceports Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Base: "We should open domestic spaceports to foreign launch vehicles," he said, suggesting that rocket bases be operated much as airports are operated today.
He complained that "our launch infrastructure is still based on government requirements." On the other hand, 80 percent of the launches from Cape Canaveral in 1997 were not military but commercial satellites. The military, according to Weldon, does not profit from those commercial activities. Instead, the "surging commercial demand will stretch Air Force and [defense department] resources even more." [So, in effect launches of U.S. commercial satellites are partly financed by the Air Force? Sounds like those good ol' hidden subsidies again that the industrial-military complex all over the world has become accustomed to over the last decades.]
Useless fact: To strengthen a Damascus sword, the blade was plunged into a slave.
All wrong, says France's Compagnie Generale des Eaux: there is no imminent alliance or merger with state-controlled media giant Havas.
Unlike reported by several French newspapers, there were as yet no final terms set for a linkup with Havas. Generale des Eaux stated that "on the one hand, the discussions with Havas have not reached as of today any definitive proposal on either the form of the operation or on the exchange parities, and on the other hand, that the hypothesis carried by newspapers has never been part of the hypotheses envisaged."
However, Generale des Eaux confirmed alliance talks with Havas, in which it already holds 30 percent, but said it would not make further comment until after supervisory board meetings scheduled for March 9.
Havas owns 34 percent of pay television company Canal Plus while Generale des Eaux recently said it would acquire 20 percent of the digital platform TPS from CLT-UFA. Both Havas and Generale des Eaux also have stakes in a cascade of companies controlling CLT-UFA. [I doubt whether any kind of alliance between both companies would make things a bit more simple to write about. What a shambles! Luxembourg-based CLT-UFA is Europe's largest media company, but nobody can really say in a few sentences who actually controls or owns it.]
Useless fact: An American urologist once bought Napoleon's penis for US$40,000.
The digital high-power satellite service of U.S. cable companies, Primestar, is still awaiting regulatory approval. Primestar has to convince the Clinton administration that it should be able to keep both its mid- and high-power orbital slots. If nothing happens over the next few weeks, the high-power launch will have to be postponed until next year.
Dan O'Brien, Primestar partnership's president-COO, said the government must act on Primestar's petition for a high-power orbital slot at 110 degrees west by mid-April if his company wants to launch its long-awaited, 225-channel high-power service by Halloween. If the government doesn't act by then, O'Brien said, Primestar would probably have to scrub the scheduled August launch of a new high-power satellite. With that launch delayed, he added, a high-power service at 110 degrees West wouldn't start until early next year.
However, it's more than unclear which of Primestar's two slots, 110 and 119 degrees West, will be more important. Analaysts were quoted as saying they could not see what the 119-degrees slot does "but confuse the consumer." Primestar had enough problems in getting their 2 million medium-power satellite subscribers to move over to 110 degrees West. The 119 degrees slot was a "throwaway;" or at best a bargaining chip to gain the favoured 110 degrees slot. Primestar reportedly plans to initially distribute only 10,000 receivers for the 119 degrees service.
Observers noted that Primestar's partner in introducing the digital direct-to-home service, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., remained passive. Of course: he sold the assets of his ill-fated U.S. DTH service, announced about a year ago, to Primestar in return for non-voting stock. Rupert Murdoch has more interesting ventures than that, I guess.
Useless fact: 60 percent of all US potato products originate in Idaho. [In Canada, I guess New Brunswick is where you have to go if you want potatoes.]
By Dr Sarmaz
Japan's Sony will sell a set-top box to view Japanese satellite TV broadcasting programs from both Japan Sky Broadcasting (JSkyB) and PerfecTV.
No surprise. JSkyB and PerfecTV are going to merge by April 1 anyway. A Sony spokesman said this will be the first box that can be used to receive signals from both pay-TV providers. Viewers will be able to select either broadcaster's programs by pushing a button on a remote-control device, reported my favourite news agency.
Cheers! As you may know, this is how radios, TV sets and receivers have been working for ages. You push a button, and there you have it, as the French would say. No, the French wouldn't say "there you have it." They would say "voilà"... but I have to stop here because otherwise I might infringe on the BBC's copyright on "Radio Radio."
How do I get back to Japan from here? Rather brutally. Sony said it would begin marketing on April 10 a set-top box and antenna set for US$520, with a [rather modest] initial monthly output target of 18,000 units.
Sony is one of four major shareholders in JSkyB, along with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. and other Japanese companies but also holds a stake in PerfecTV. This is not only important because of the opportunity to sell set-top boxes; Sony also holds a huge library of broadcast rights.
Useless fact: In Japan, 20 percent of all publications sold are comic books [manga or what are they called?]
by Grandpa Zheng
Common sense might suggest that it's international. INTERnet, the name subtly indicates it. Cynics might add that common sense and the positions of the U.S. government have in the past often turned out to be rather incompatible.
Telecommunications ministers from the 15 member states of the European Union (EU) have backed the EU commission's highly-critical analysis of a US green paper on future Internet governance. They also agreed to send Washington a letter outlining their objections to the proposals, demanding "full bilateral consultations" before any of them were implemented. French telecommunications minister Christian Pierret stated that "it is out of the question that the EU could accept this American position." His British counterpart Barbara Roche said the EU would seek to work with the Americans to resolve the row but stressed that "the approach that has to be taken is an international one."
The letter to be sent to Washington says that "the current US proposals would, in the name of globalisation and privatisation of the internet, seem to consolidate permanent US jurisdiction over the internet as a whole." This applies especially to trademark issues and other disputes related to domain names that, according to the green paper, would become subject to U.S. jurisdiction [which is world famous for mindbogglingly absurd rulings especially when it comes to compensation.] The EU wants these issues to be dealt by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIP) instead.
The U.S. green paper also proposes the creation of five new top-level suffixes, ignoring the work of an International Ad-Hoc Committee on the Internet, which last year proposed a system of seven new top-level domains to be run from Geneva. The EU claims that the U.S. would abandon their commitment given last year to participate in a global system for the registration, allocation and governance of domain names.
Useless fact: In ancient Greece, "idiot" meant a private citizen or layman.
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