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Arianespace announced its Ariane rocket has been selected to launch the GE-5 direct broadcast satellite in late 1998 for the U.S. company GE Americom, within the scope of a contract signed by Arianespace with Dornier Satellitensysteme GmbH, a corporate unit of Daimler-Benz Aerospace (DASA, Munich).
The GE-5 satellite, based on a Spacebus 2000 platform, is being built by an Aerospatiale-led industrial team at Aerospatiale's Cannes plant in Southern France. Weighing 1,760 kg at liftoff, the GE-5 satellite will be equipped with 18 Ku-band transponders. The new satellite is compatible with both the Ariane 4 and Ariane 5 systems, and will be launched from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
With the support of its industrial partners Aerospatiale (France), Alenia Aerospazio (Italy) and Arianespace (Europe), DASA offered a complete package, combining the satellite, the launch slot and the launch services for a flight targeted for the fourth quarter of 1998.
Prior to Flight 107, Arianespace has 41 satellites on order to be launched, worth an estimated 20.3 billion French francs or 3.4 billion US$. Flight 107 is now scheduled for March 20. An Ariane 40 launch vehicle will be used to place into orbit the Spot 4 earth observation satellite for the French space agency CNES.
Useless fact: The Volkswagen was originally called the "Strength-Through-Joy car."
Japan's National Space Development Agency (NASDA) will make a first attempt to move its Comets satellite to another orbit tomorrow.
As reported, the experimental satellite failed to reach its proper orbit after a launch aboard Japan's H2 rocket. While Comets has no chance of getting into the originally desired geostationary orbit on its own power, it probably can be propelled to an orbit that would partially allow conducting the planned experiments -- every time it passes over Japan, that is.
It will take some eight ignitions of the satellite's on-board thruster to reach the final orbit of 17,700 by 500 kilometers. The current orbit is 1,870 by 250 kilometers. A NASDA spokeswoman said it would take until the end of May because the satellite needed some breaks to recharge its batteries and other technical adjustments had to be made.
Of course, the ground segment has to be adjusted accordingly -- for instance, motorised dishes have to be used in order to keep contact with the satellite instead of fixed ones. But their are also problems with the satellite even if it reaches its new orbit as planned. Its on-board systems, such as the attitude control, weren't designed for use in a non-geostationary orbit. And after all: shifting the satellite will take up so much fuel that it will be operational for only nine months instead of three years as planned.
Useless fact: In 1976 a Los Angeles secretary named Jannene Swift officially married a 23-kg rock. The ceremony was witnessed by more than 20 people.
The first Fleet Satellite Communications (FltSatCom) spacecraft built by TRW Inc. recently celebrated its 20th anniversary on orbit, TRW said in a press release.
I don't find this excessively interesting, but on the other hand it provides at least a nice overview of the system. Maybe you're into this kinda stuff.
The U.S. FltSat system consists of a constellation of four operational satellites in geosynchronous orbit. Each satellite has 23 communications channels in the 244-400 megahertz range, providing worldwide tactical UHF communications to the U.S. military. The satellites are hexagonal structures, weighing 2,300 pounds on-orbit. They have an 18-turn helical UHF receive antenna and a deployable parabolic UHF transmit antenna.
FltSat was the first operational military communications system to operate at UHF frequencies, and it was the first system to be able to communicate to forces in the field with small, inexpensive terminals aboard mobile platforms such as aircraft, ships and submarines.
The first FltSatCom satellite was launched on February 9, 1978. It had a five-year design life. Seven additional FltSatCom satellites were launched between 1979 and 1987, and each of these satellites (except for Flight 6, which along with the launch vehicle was hit by lightning and lost) outlived its design life by a significant margin. Four FltSatCom satellites, including Flight 1, are currently operational, supporting military communications.
FltSatCom proved its worth to the military by providing secure, mobile communications during the hostage rescue attempt in Iran, the student evacuation of Grenada, and other contingency operations. [Ah, that's what we call those "operations" now.]
TRW built eight Fltsat communications satellites at its Redondo Beach manufacturing facility. FltSat satellites 7 and 8 carry an experimental extremely high-frequency package that served as a test bed for the current generation of systems.
Useless fact: The United States has 5 percent of the world's population, yet consumes 25 percent of its energy supply.
Satellite piracy is a hot issue. Many broadcasters that were affected wouldn't even admit it. However, it's rather easy to at least disturb a satellite signal by uplinking another signal to the same satellite. You don't even need a giant dish to do it.
Digital DTH service Alphastar seems to have become the victim of satellite piracy, too -- which should have been even easier as the service is currently off air and plans a re-launch in the second quarter. On of the the former Alphastar channels, an insert appeared, asking subscribers to fax personal information, such as an address and fax number, for "upcoming DTH service in the U.S."
Alphastar officials said they had nothing to do with the message: "Official information about AlphaStar can only emanate from us, and will be clearly labeled with the AlphaStar logos, so that you will know that it is us," states Alphastar's Web Site.
Useless fact: The word for insect feces is "frass."
CLT-Ufa and Groupe AB are in the process of finalising a long-form agreement under which Groupe AB will acquire from CLT-Ufa 65% of the share capital of RTL 9, the Luxembourg-based television channel.
Subject to a decision to be made by Banque Populaire de Lorraine, which currently owns 2.25% of RTL 9, CLT-Ufa will hold at least 33.5% of the channel's remaining shares.
RTL 9, a family entertainment channel, is the leading cable and satellite channel in France. It will continue to be broadcast from CLT-Ufa's Kirchberg site in Luxembourg. The channel, which reaches 650,000 homes in Luxembourg, is also distributed via cable to 2.1 million cable households in France and Switzerland, as well as via satellite to 386,000 subscribers of the TPS direct-to-home (DTH) service.
Groupe AB is the largest independent producer and distributor of television programming in France. The Company owns or controls fights to over 30,000 hours of programming for French-speaking Europe. Groupe AB, through its wholly owned subsidiary AB Sat also operates a digital DTH service of 20 thematic channels.
Useless fact: The hydrochloric acid in the human stomach is strong enough to dissolve a nail.
The European commission has decided to make a thorough investigation of the merger project announced by U.S. telecommunications groups WorldCom and MCI, a commission spokesman said.
The commission's competition officials want information on the two groups' combined market shares under terms of the planned merger, and especially in connection with supplying Internet basic architecture services, the spokesman said. Both companies combined would operate a major part of Internet backbones.
Under the EU procedures, the commission now has four months to make a final decision on the project.
Useless fact: The compound carotene gives the carrot its colour.
"The beauty of the Internet is its openness. It cannot be controlled or dominated or cut off because it is simply a constantly changing series of linkages."
William Henry Gates III
Useless fact: My favourite Windows 95 program is DeleteMe.exe. I don't know where this small gem (14 kBytes) came from. One day, it sat just there in my temporary folder and chuckled. When run, it simply displays the following message: "DeleteMe.exe is a leftover from an uninstall program. You can safely delete it." Of course, I didn't. I never will! Some programmer out there must've really had a good sense of humour and especially of self-referential paradoxes. DeleteMe.exe contains no copyright notice, so just email me and I'll send you a copy.
by Dr Sarmaz
Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset is reportedly looking for opportunities to sell programming. A certain Keith Rupert Murdoch [KRM] seemed to be involved, and the Italian press interpreted talks as a sign that Mr Murdoch wants to purchase a controlling stake in Berlusconi's television holding Mediaset (Sat-ND, 20.2.98.)
Those rumours were a bit exaggerated, but Italy's financial newspaper MF now reported that Mr Murdoch was indeed interested in acquiring 25 percent of Mediaset through his News Corp. group.
MF reported that a delegation from News Corp. would meet the management of Mediaset at the end of next week and that this meeting might mark the opening of negotiations over the acquisition of a part of the business.
This minority stake would cost Mr Murdoch the trifle of US$1.7 billion dollars -- even at a time when many analysts think Mediaset, which is traded publicly, was undervalued. MF reported that News Corp. might try to finance this by offering an exchange of shares in its own business. [Of course. Did you think he was going to pay cash down?]
Mediaset is still controlled by Berlusconi's communications group Fininvest. Its president President Fedele Confalioneri recently said that any control of Mediaset by Murdoch was not under discussion. "We do not have any information about such intentions by Murdoch and we do not have any interest in handing over."
Useless fact: The drinking straw was invented in 1886 by hand rolling paraffined Manila paper.
Poor KRM! Nobody understands him. He is now even under more attack for alleged censorship to appease the Chinese communist regime, and according to press reports, the affair is fast becoming an embarrassment for Tony Blair's Labour government...
...which, of course, enjoyed the support of KRM's tabloids before last May's general elections (Sat-ND, 1.3.98.) Is it a surprise when the current government opposes an "anti-Murdoch" amendment voted through by the House of Lords to a competition bill? The amendment aims to end the newspaper price war waged by the press baron, who controls 40 percent of daily and weekly newspaper circulation in Britain.
Mr Murdoch himself meanwhile had to admit that the hostile coverage was no longer confined to the "regular Murdoch haters" [which, by the way, I do not at all belong to.]
However, the explanation he had to offer for News Corp. unit HarperCollins scrapping a book highly critical of China is totally ridiculous: "personal reasons."
The author of the incriminated book, former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten, is not what KRM would exactly call a friend of his. "I have always been a bit negative about him ever since I thought he was undermining [former prime minister Margaret] Thatcher." Well, maybe that's why Mr Patten found himself in Hong Kong soon after that episode. Anyway, what a bloody nonsense -- no serious publisher would refuse the chance of making money with a book written by somebody he or she happens not to be fond of.
KRM, however, seems to hate Mr Patten so much that he even seems to prefer to pay for his book to be published by somebody else. He told HarperCollins editors: "Why don't you go and say we would rather have someone else publish this and if there is any chance of losing money, we will make it good."
Mr Murdoch unfortunately chose to let his thoughts on democracy in Hong Kong be known, too. "I think he [Patten] made a bit of a fool of himself out there after suddenly discovering democracy at the end of a 100-year rule. If he has discovered it a little earlier, it might have been a bit more convincing." True, but of course by not at all Mr Patten's fault who arrived in Hong Kong in 1992 and not a century earlier. In my opinion, what Mr Patten did in Hong Kong deserves every respect [and is much more than could be expected of a conservative politician anyway.]
Mr Murdoch's excuses for not publishing Mr Patten's book are more than just weak. The facts speaks volumes:
In 1994, HarperCollins released the English version of a biography on then paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, written by his daughter Deng Rong.
Murdoch dropped the BBC World Service from his Star TV Asian satellite service Star TV, this week in1994, after a request from Beijing following a BBC documentary which in their view disparaged Mao Zedong.
In 1996, his News Corp. took a 45 per cent stake in a new Hong Kong-based satellite channel, Phoenix, with partners including a Chinese state-owned sales and advertising agency.
Phoenix last September became the first non-mainland satellite TV operation to secure official approval to broadcast into the prosperous southern province of Guangdong, considered a lucrative advertising market.
Also last year, News Corp launched a joint venture Web site with the official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, the People's Daily.
Murdoch's British-based Sky News channel received approval to open a Beijing bureau.
Meanwhile, the former East Asia editor of the Times, one of KRM's newspapers, claimed that the paper "has simply decided, because of Murdoch's interests, not to cover China in a serious way." Times editor Peter Stothard replied in Tuesday's edition that "The China coverage of the Times is wholly and solely in the hands of the Editor. I have never taken an editorial decision to suit Mr Murdoch's interests, nor have I ever been asked to." Which of course doesn't mean anything as a "good" editor will guess what the publisher of a certain paper wants to read or not.
The editors at HarperCollins did not, complains KRM. "They chickened out and got themselves into the position where they were inventing reasons why they just didn't want to publish it which were nonsense, leaving me in a completely inexcusable position." Poor Rupert was even quoted as whining "they screwed it up ... our people cocked it up." Obviously, KRM expected them to make business decisions based upon his personal preferences. He should've instructed them earlier.
Useless fact: Starfish have no brains.
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