Orion 2, featuring 38 high-powered Ku-band transponders, will cover all of Europe and large sections of North America and Latin America. In addition, the satellite will deliver spot beam coverage of South Africa.
The 10 kilowatt Orion 2 satellite will be based on SS/L's flight-proven three-axis, body-stabilised FS-1300 bus, and will have a mass of 3,800 kilograms, when it is launched aboard an Ariane 44LP launch vehicle in May 1999. The spacecraft will have an expected lifetime of 16 years.
SS/L has added features to its new design of the Orion 2 satellite that expand its revenue potential, said Robert Berry, president of Space Systems/Loral. These features include eight additional transponders, more transmittable power, an enhanced transponder switching capability, and three additional years in expected lifetime.
Loral Orion: http://www.loralorion.com/
Space Systems/Loral: http://www.ssloral.com/
Back to top
Yep, it's strange. Nothing has really happened: five out of 72 satellites launched were already defunct, now there are seven. The leader of the Iridium consortium, Motorola, reportedly expected to have even nine dead satellites before the commercial launch in September. The reason for the latest malfunctions is not known; Iridium said the satellites failed either because of hardware or electronics failures.
As a matter of fact, that's part of the concept: small, inexpensive, mass-produced satellites which may fail any time. There are in-orbit spares, and maintenance launches are regularly scheduled. The two defunct Iridiums, for instance, will be replaced with two launches in August. There will be quite some coming and going within the constellation, and that applies to most of the other ones that are planned.
So, when a news agency quoted an analyst as saying "the problem is that we don't know if the two satellites that failed are indicative of other satellites that might fail," this displayed some kind of misconception that may be based upon thinking in terms of geostationary satellites, 15-years plus lifespan and on-board redundancy which means that most systems have backups. This is of course not possible with small, lightweight low-Earth orbit satellite.
So most definitely there will be more failures of Iridium satellites, but it's no problem at all if the failure rate stays within a certain frame. The only question that remains is: isn't a failure rate of nearly ten percent a bit too high? Probably not yet, as for example the "Internet in the sky," Teledesic, will include a number of active in-orbit spares that amounts to ten percent of the active fleet (Sat-ND, 18.10.1997.)
Back to top
The Woomera spaceport, which according to Kistler will incorporate "the world's most advanced technology," will provide the operational base for the launch of the world's first fully reusable launch vehicle, the Kistler K-1.
The multimillion-dollar spaceport is due for completion in the fourth quarter of this year, with test flights of the vehicle scheduled for late 1998. The first commercial payload is expected to be launched next year.
Kistler hopes to begin construction on its second spaceport site, in Nevada, in the 1999-2000 time frame. The company plans to operate the two spaceports simultaneously to allow greater flexibility in scheduling and in the range of launch azimuths that can be flown to meet customer requirements.
At a ceremony to mark the beginning of construction of the spaceport, Kistler Aerospace Chairman Robert Wang said the satellite communications market was large enough to support both launch sites.
He admitted the U.S. authorities would closely watch Kistler's Australian experience to ensure the re-usable launch vehicle was safe before they gave the green light for the Nevada site. He added: "I don't know where these rumours begin from but I tell you, no company in their right mind would put US$45 million (A$72.5 million) in a launch facility and then use it for a test site," Mr Wang told reporters.
Once the sites are operational, Kistler expects to launch up to 100 of its vehicles each year that will put satellites into low-Earth orbit.
As a commercial venture, the Kistler project will be regulated by Australia's Department of Industry, Science and Tourism (DIST), which is responsible for licensing and safety matters for the commercial space sector.
Back to top
In the privatisation deal, Aerospatiale will acquire Lagardere's Matra Hautes Technologies, a holding company for all of Lagardere's defence and space activities. In return, Lagardere will get a sizeable stake in Aerospatiale--30 to 33 percent--and will be the company's largest private shareholder. Lagardere has until now refused to enter any alliance in which it is not the majority shareholder. The government's stake in Aerospatiale will fall to below 50 percent, although it will remain the biggest single shareholder.
As part of the deal, Lagardere will also inject its 50 percent share in the Matra BAe Dynamics missiles joint venture with British Aerospace, all of its Matra Systems and Information, 51 percent of Matra Marconi Space and 50 percent of Matra Nortel Communications.
Both Lagardere's high-tech Matra unit and Aerospatiale said that the new group would be open to other European partners, while Economy Minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn said the government could reduce its Aerospatiale stake further if new alliances were forged. "That is the price of creating something which could build alliances with Daimler-Benz Aerospace (DASA) of Germany or British Aerospace (BAe) in the UK."
It seems that the U.S. giants are reacting: according to press reports, Lockheed Martin is looking for a European partner, with the UK's BAe top on the list of candidates.
The merger is unlikely to face major regulatory problems in the European Union because the European Commission, in its role as the Union's competition watchdog, has little power over defence mergers. Under EU rules, national governments can ask companies involved in mergers and acquisitions not to supply information on military activities or other aspects touching upon a country's "security" or "essential interests" in their filings with the Commission.
But is this just a defence merger? The deal could also affect the market for telecommunications and satellites [otherwise I wouldn't have mentioned it.]
Anyway, the EU Commission last year warned that the European aerospace and defence industry was too fragmented to be able to face up to competition from big players in the United States, and that the restructuring process was going too slowly.
Back to top
Launched in November 1997, TRMM is a joint project between NASA and Japan's National Space Development Agency (NASDA). The satellite collects data related to tropical rainfall and other atmospheric phenomena for use in weather forecasting, climatological studies, and agricultural predictions.
TRMM is the first mission of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise programme that will be providing data to the public via the Internet within 24-48 hours of its collection.
TRMM is also the first satellite in the Earth Science Enterprise programme to distribute data in the Hierarchical Data Format (HDF), according to NASA "a public data standard." HDF has been adopted by NASA for TRMM and other Earth science missions to give scientists consistent access to data.
The rest of the press release actually is more or less a commercial for some software that "offers a low cost solution to access, manipulate, and visualise science data in an easy-to-use environment."
So, if you're interested in tropical rainfall, have a look at http://trmm.gsfc.nasa.gov/.
Back to top
"The Palestinian Authority and an Israeli telecommunications company recently sent requests to the Egyptian Satellite Company, Nilesat, to each rent a television channel," Salah Hamza, the chief engineer of the Egyptian Satellite Company, was quoted as saying.
He refused to name the Israeli firm or say whether its request had been approved or refused.
He added that "up to now four Arab countries, Libya, Iraq, Oman and Bahrain, have taken the necessary measures to use Nilesat's television channels."
Back to top
The ministry said groups applying for licences must be at least 26 percent-owned by Israelis and have US$40 million in equity. They will be required to offer a package of at least 10 channels, three in Hebrew.
It said licences would not be granted to cable television operators, political parties or consortia not registered in Israel. It said it would not limit the number of licences granted.
Interestingly, there is [to my knowledge] no Israeli DBS satellite yet. Maybe they'll use Nilesat 101, the same satellite used by countries such as Libya and Iraq?
Back to top
HBO Polska will be offered to Wizja TV DTH subscribers free of charge for the first 3 months. The channel is a partnership among Home Box Office, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Buena Vista International Television (Disney.)
HBO Polska launched its Polish-language premium television service to subscribers in Poland in September 1996. The network features blockbuster films, documentaries, sports, music and other specials, and is available through key Polish cable operators, including the largest, Polska Telewizja Kablowa (PTK).
Back to top
CNN Plus, which will be based in Madrid, is to be run by Compania Independiente de Noticias de Television (CINTV). Sogecable and Turner Broadcasting System International will each own 50 percent of the company.
CNN Plus is to be distributed by Canal Satellite Digital, the digital subsidiary of Sogecable which will, as reported, probably merge with its competitor Via Digital.
Back to top
Ten channels of foreign-language programming from EABC will be available on the new DirecTV expansion satellite platform. The initial lineup includes these EABC services:
Network Asia and Sony Entertainment Television (Hindi)
Ukrainian Broadcasting Network (Ukrainian)
Ciao TV (Italian)
Egyptian Satellite Channel and Nile Drama (Arabic)
VIVA Cinema (Filipino)
These are the first of several new services to be delivered via transponder capacity leased by DirecTV on PanAmSat's Galaxy III-R satellite platform at 95 degrees West,. EABC will roll out its services initially in major markets by the end of July, followed by additional channel launches throughout the fall of 1998. EABC will have the ability to offer up to 20 channels of foreign language programming on the new platform.
The foreign-born population in the United States is expected to grow to more than 31 million by the year 2010, according to a recent survey by Analysis and Forecasting, Inc. of Cambridge, MA, increasing the demand for foreign-language television services.
EABC services can be purchased on an a la carte basis or in a programme package and are distinct from any DirecTV programming package. The EABC networks and additional future services from DirecTV offered on the new expansion platform will be available to homes equipped with the new DSS-II satellite receiving system, manufactured by Hughes Network Systems. DSS-II is what Europeans know as "cross-eyed dish" or multifeed-system. It is also capable of receiving the core DirecTV digital television service at 101 degrees West.
Ethnic-American Broadcasting Company: http://www.eabc.com/
Back to top
EchoStar's SkyVista DTH service will include over 20 channels of the "Best of Satellite" package for US$19.99 per month. The package will include broadcast network signals, one premium channel of HBO, one premium channel of Starz as well as foreign and niche programming for additional monthly charges.
EchoStar will offer SkyVista customers a complete satellite system for a suggested retail price of US$399, which will include a 90-cm dish antenna and a single low-noise block converter with integrated feed (LNBF).
In June, Loral Skynet and EchoStar Communications Corp., announced that they had agreed in principle to form a strategic alliance to offer new digital-based services to cable operators, programmers, and DTH consumers. The alliance created two new services: EchoStar's SkyVista direct-to-home package and Skynet Direct, Loral Skynet's transmission and distribution service. The services are to be offered to programmers and other niche service providers such as international channels, specialised channels, distance-learning services and corporate business television networks.
Skynet Direct is Loral Skynet's new transmission and distribution service that offers programmers a combination of its Telstar fleet space segment with compression, encoding, uplinking, format conversion and multiplexing from EchoStar's existing facilities. Skynet Direct will enable specialty programmers--such as international channels, specialised channels, distance-learning services and business television--to cost-effectively distribute their programming to targeted audiences throughout the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. The programming can be received through the same 90-cm dish, using the same set-top box and access card as EchoStar's SkyVista DTH service.
Consumers in the United States will use EchoStar's next-generation set-top box, a single smart card and a 90-cm dish, available through EchoStar's existing North American network of over 12,000 hometown dealers. The DTH service will also be available to Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Island residents who currently lack small dish access to satellite-delivered, multi-channel digital programming. EchoStar will provide uplinking and distribution services to Telstar 5 from its facilities in Cheyenne, Wyo., as well as order processing, set-top box authorisation, and billing from its customer service center in Denver, Colo.
Through the Loral Skynet and EchoStar alliance, the SkyVista consumers and specialty programming customers in the United States will be able to subscribe to EchoStar's DISH Network programming services using an additional antenna with the same receiver and access card.
Back to top
An ingenious Seattle designer has applied an ancient technology to solve a modern high-tech problem: aiming a satellite dish. The newly patented invention uses the principles of a sundial to let the sun help a person aim any directional antenna. "This makes aiming a satellite dish remarkably easy," says the inventor Richard Pauli. It usually takes a compass, protractor, cellular phone, electric power and a willing helper to aim a dish, and most people pay professionals to do the job. Says Pauli, "Now anyone can do this. All it takes is two settings on the device and a few seconds of sunshine".
Pauli first thought of using the venerable sundial while looking for a quick and easy alternative to the confusion of aiming a dish. He wanted an aiming method that his mother or a 10 year old child could use. [Oh well, would they climb up the roof?] Pauli says he was amazed that it hadn't been done before. With this device, called SunDial Setup, a person aims their dish by moving it until the sun's shadow meets a mark on the dish. "It's like setting a sundial to the time of day." says Pauli.
SunDial Setup mounts easily on the face of the dish and looks like a hinged stick with marks on it. The shadowcaster is set to the angles between the sun and the proper aim for the satellite dish. The two settings for the Sundial Setup device are calculated by software and are valid only for a specific satellite, date, time and location. The user sets the device and then moves the dish so the shadow meets the mark on the face of the dish--then the dish is properly aimed. "The entire process takes about a minute," says Pauli. "And since it takes no electricity, it is safer," he adds.
SunDial Setup, for which software is under development, is optimised when pre-installed on a dish, and Pauli is in discussion with several leading dish manufacturers. But there is also a strong after-market for the device. "It can allow anyone under the sun to re-aim an existing dish quickly, safely and accurately."
"I devised SunDial Setup for anyone to use," says Pauli. "What was once a difficult, daunting, potentially costly task, is now easy, intuitive and amazingly inexpensive."
Explanation and images: http://www.sundialsetup.com/
Back to top
ORCA FM, as the whale station is aptly called, plans to transmit whale sounds as they are picked up by a microphone 50 meters below the surface of the water at a location in the Pacific Ocean. The microphone will be able to record whale sounds within a vicinity of 15 kilometers.
The station is available only in the Vancouver region but there are plans to put it on the Internet.
The station's launch, according to reports, was not too convincing. Listeners actually heard a boat. Explained Meg Pocklington, one of the station managers: "It has been there all morning. Yesterday all we heard was whales. It's a timing issue."
Back to top
"The small vehicles that you refer to in Sat ND (you know, the ones with names like condoms) are all solid fuel. Both the LockMart Athena and the OSC Taurus are based on the Castor 120 solid rock motor. The Athena I becomes an Athena II when you stack the first Castor 120 on top of a second Castor 120."
My misconclusion [does that word exist? My spell checker complains!] was triggered by these two paragraphs of the USAF press release:
"We've been looking for a softer ride and expect our recently developed 'whole-spacecraft isolation system,' launched this past February aboard an Orbital Sciences Corporation Taurus-2, is the solution," said aerospace research engineer Dr. Dino Sciulli of AFRL's Space Vehicles Directorate ...
Placing sensitive satellites safely into orbit has meant finding a way to reduce the brutal G-force shocks induced by launch vehicle motors, especially the engines of smaller-class, liquid-fueled rockets, which vibrate more than their larger, solid-fuel counterparts.
Back to top
Or have a look at http://sat-nd.com/info/mailer.html