Originally, two launches were planned this year: that of a Swedish satellite called Odin in mid-1998 and that of a commercial U.S. remote sensing satellite, Early Bird 2. Both spacecraft won't get ready this year, their respective owners meanwhile said.
The real problem is that the Research Centre Complex 'Aleksander Sukhadolsky' so far couldn't convince more customers to have their satellites put into sun-synchronous orbit by their Start-1 rocket. Located in the Amur region near the Chinese border, Svobodny is the only Russian launch site close enough to the equator to enable sun-synchronous missions. This orbit is usually used by remote sensing and imaging satellites, etc.
Both the rocket and the Svobodny cosmodrome are by-products of disarmament treaties. The Start-1 vehicle is a converted military missile, and a division of strategic missiles had been deployed earlier at Svobodny. There are still launch silos there, which can't be used however--there's no money for refurbishment. as a consequence, Start-1 rockets are actually launched from mobile platforms.
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The communications satellite would also be capable of tracking the expansion of desert regions as well as collecting hydrological information. The National Remote Sensing Council was in charge of the project, the paper said. A Small Satellite unit, which will comprise 200 scientists by 2002, is to be set up at the National Space Centre.
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The two satellites will be manoeuvred into their respective positions to become part of the operational constellation. They are part of Iridium LLC's 66-satellite global wireless personal communications network which is designed to offer voice, data, fax and paging services with a handheld telephone and pager.
The launch marks the 14th successful Iridium launch in less than one year, and the third with China Great Wall. It is yet unknown when the final launch that will complete the constellation will take place. Originally slated for April 26 aboard a Delta II rocket, it has been postponed without announcing a new launch date.
The planned September 23 date for the inauguration of Iridium commercial services can be met if the remaining five satellites will be put into orbit over the next two months.
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This is not unusual as Intelsat grants its member countries loans to get them started with new Intelsat digital services or to help them implement or install new low-cost digital equipment.
In anticipation of the new, cost-effective system to become operational at the end of May, Zamtel has meanwhile reduced international telephone tariffs by 30 percent.
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The DMX web site states that "Using the music library and programming of DMX, Xtra Music (XM) will be completing its state-of-the-art server-based playout studio in Germany this summer in preparation for the launch of its 90-channel music service."
Unlike the former DMX Europe, it will not utilise the ADR (astra Digital Radio) system but instead rent a single transponder that will allow the distribution of the encrypted music service using the DVB standard. "Xtra will deliver its DVB signal to commercial and residential subscribers via a 60cm dish and existing DVB receivers. The service will also be made available to cable operators."
Special thanks: Thomas Irlbeck, Holger Zeissler
The plan sounds rather sensible as one of the main reasons for the demise of DMX Europe was the cost of transponder capacity. The U.S. DMX service was transmitted to Europe via a transponder on a TDRS satellite. A local playout centre with a direct uplink will undoubtedly be cheaper [do they know they need a license for that in Germany?,] and so will the use of a single satellite transponder (DVB) instead of dozens of transponder subcarriers (ADR.)
However, former DMX Europe subscribers will almost certainly not be willing to invest into yet another receiver even if XM, as promised last year, were to acknowledge DMX Europe subscription fees paid in advance--especially not as a potential rival, Music Choice Europe (MCE) is already widely available in DVB as part of some pay-TV bouquets.
In German-speaking countries, DMX subscriptions were handled by Selco which recently passed the subscriber database on to Leo Kirch's ailing DF1 digital TV package. DMX Europe subscribers soon afterwards received junk mail promoting DF1, with special emphasis on the 30 MCE channels included with the DF1 basic tier.
The question remains whether XM can really afford to repel the possibly small yet loyal group of former DMX Europe subscribers by introducing a totally incompatible transmission system while not offering them any incentives to move over to DVB and renew their subscription.
The announcement (if we were to take those few lines as such) does not even mention that there had been a service such as DMX Europe which finally went bankrupt; instead it's pretending this was an all new service--which it isn't. The text also does not sound as if those who wrote it are too familiar with the satellite business in general anyway. It states that XM will use a transponder on Astra, "the largest and most successful satellite system in the world." Astra is of course by no means the largest and most successful satellite system in the world. It's just a highly profitable commercial regional satellite system that even doesn't cover all of Europe.
It also has to be noted that this 'announcement' does not mention which of the two Astra positions, 19.2°E or 28.2°E, will be used. While the first one covers parts of Western and Central Europe, the latter one will be used primarily for digital services targeting the UK.
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"Surely it's not that we lack a funny bone but maybe we take our work too seriously. I have long known that a family can exist for longer without hot water or a washing machine than without TV. The urgency and importance attached to the delivery of this essential service must have taken its toll."
Yes... and no! If you buy TELE-satellite International, you will find a gorgeous cartoon in every issue that's guaranteed to be funny and satellite/TV related. Let's hope they will put up a gallery of those on the Web (unless they haven't already.) I just love most of 'em.
Until then, enjoy the following two jokes sent in by Geoff; a long one and a short one. Thank you very much! (He sent three actually, but the third one mentions sexual intercourse, and that's something I may or may not want to take place in my bedroom or just about anywhere else but most certainly not in here. Sorry all you lurkers.)
A bus load of tourists travelling
through outback northern Australia were surprised to see an elderly
aboriginal man laying near the side of the road with his ear pressed
to the ground and an expression of painful concentration on his
weathered face. "Oh what luck", exclaimed the tour
director, "we have stumbled upon an aboriginal tracker".
The TD walked quietly towards the old gent and asked what he could hear. "I hear an old Ford ute, 'bout an '84, goin' 'bout 80K's an' swervin' all over the road," "In the back are three blokes, two dogs an' six cartons of beer." The TD was amazed and asked how the man could deduce so much detail.
"I just fell out of the fuckin' ute", he said.
A traveller complaining that a town was the arse hole of the world was asked by a local if he was just passing through.
ANTENNAS PROFESSIONAL ANTENNA SERVICE
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