Archive for March, 2010

Satellite Industry News Bits March 12, 2010

Saturday, March 13th, 2010


Federal court upholds regulations that require cable TV companies to make sports programming and other channels they own available on equal terms to rival TV providers such as satellite companies.
[Reuters – 03/12/2010]

The U.S. Navy says launch of next-generation MUOS communications satellites will be delayed until September 2011; military space officials search for options deal with gap in critical tactical mobile communications.
[Spaceflight Now – 03/12/2010]

CapRock Government Solutions expands coverage on its pre-packaged satellite subscription service, CommandAccess™, with the finalization of its commercial X-band network with military-grade features for secure voice, video, and data communications.
[Satellite Today – 03/12/2010]

Goonhilly in the UK, once the largest teleport in the world with over 60 operational antennas, will close visitor center for an unspecified length of time, according to BBC.
[BBC News – 03/11/2010]

Globalstar, Inc. receives a substantial order for the initial delivery of more than 15,000 SPOT Satellite Communicators from DeLorme.
[CNN Money – 03/11/2010]

A coalition of cable and satellite companies ask the FCC to mandate that disputes with broadcasters be settled by arbitration, to prevent broadcasters from charging big fees for retransmission.
[USA Today – 03/10/2010]

SkyTerra adds data capability to its MSAT-G2 mobile satellite radio equipment with new software, expanding applications of SkyTerra’s mobile satellite equipment for government and enterprise customers.
[Market Watch – 03/10/2010]

Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. and Orbit Technology Group announce integration of their products for Satellite Communications On-The-Move (SOTM) solutions to serve mobile requirements of a wide range of industries.
[CNN Money – 03/10/2010]

GE – Satlynx is re-named GE – Satcom, the final step for the company as they become a fully integrated GE business brand identity.
[SatNews – 03/08/2010]

SkyTerra announces the roll-out of its new radio software, developed by Hughes, that enables data capability on its MSAT-G2 mobile satellite radio equipment.
[Market Watch – 03/10/2010]

Starling Advanced Communications of Israel is introducing the StarPack, a single-case, fly-away antenna providing two-way, high-speed Ku broadband satellite communications from anywhere on earth.
[RF Globalnet – 03/10/2010]

Globecomm Systems announces the company’s subsidiary has received a $34 million-plus increase in a contract from a major U.S. Government prime contractor; the contract is valued at up to $127 million over four years.
[TMCnet – 03/09/2010]

A satellite radio company increases its subscriber uptake by getting its system installed in 60% of new cars, compared to 50% last year, and choosing the car models carefully to enhance the probability of car owners subscribing to the service.
[CNN Money – 03/09/2010]

SkyBitz® and Iridium announce a strategic partnership that will position Iridium as the first-ever provider of two-way global MSS for SkyBitz, integrating the SkyBitz Global Locating System (GLS) technology with the recently announced Iridium 9602 satellite data transceiver.
[CNN Money – 03/09/2010]

NASA launches interactive online Space Communication and Navigation (SCaN) simulation in an effort to excite young people about space and NASA’s missions.
[The Orange County Register – 03/09/2010]

The Ministry of Defence has extended a deal with EADS to use a fourth SkyNet satellite of EADS subsidiary Paradigm to provide communications and data to troops in the field. The total value of the deal is now £3.5 billion.
[Computer World UK – 03/09/2010]

Globecomm Systems Inc. acquires Carrier to Carrier Telecom BV and Evolution Communication Ltd. for
about $15 million in cash as it expands its geographic reach.
[Business Week – 03/08/2010]

The Navy has awarded Lockheed Martin Corp. a new $10.2 million task order through the Integrated Topside program to help develop advanced satellite communications systems for submarines.
[Defense Systems – 03/08/2010]

Harris receives a Navy deal worth $10.7 million for computer systems for naval frigate vessels using 1.3-meter satellite communications terminals that have 10-times the bandwidth currently available, and operate on both X- and Ku-band frequencies.
[Orlando Sentinel – 03/08/2010]

Two areas of the national broadband plan likely to cause controversey are its goal to provide 100 Mbps service provided to 100 million U.S. homes by 2020 and its effort to get broadcasters to give up 500 MHz of spectrum for the use of wireless providers.
[TMCnet – 03/08/2010]

The U.S Army may be signaling to have at its disposal a variety of applications, particularly for sending goods, managing supply and support troops with more rich features, perhaps video or large data file transfers. But will this be the end of military narrowband tracking and M2M services?
[NSR Report -"Scenarios in Asset Tracking and Situational Awareness " –  March 2010]


WBMSAT PS – Satellite Communications Consulting Services

Billions, in 3D

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Satcom types will be gathering in Washington next week for the Satellite 2010 conference and exhibition. It’s usually a subdued affair, populated most my men in dark suits. It remains an essential point of contact for people who work in commercial space.

Expect to see a few 3DTV demos, as that’s the next "bandwidth hog" the satellite operators are hoping. More bandwidth mean more money.

More exciting is what happens on Friday, 19 March 2010: "Hubble 3D" opens at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater. During the space shuttle final mission to the Hubble Space Telescope (STS-125), they packed an IMAX 3D camera with them.

Here’s the trailer…


And another example of what this telescope can do, via


Google Dish

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010


So what’s all this we read in The Wall Street Journal about a deal between Google and Dish Network? Just the usual "according to people familiar with the matter." Bloomberg writers use the same source. But there appears to be serious speculation as to exactly what’s going on, even though we blogged it three years ago.

The service, which runs on TV set-top boxes containing Google software, allows users to find shows on the satellite-TV service as well as video from Web sites like Google’s YouTube, according to these people. It also lets users to personalize a lineup of shows, these people said.

With the test, Google moves deeper into a crowded field of companies, large and small, that have been trying for years to marry the Web and TV and their business models—from rivals Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc. to the manufacturers of televisions and set-top boxes.

Just last week, TiVo Inc. announced new digital video recorders that blend broadcast and online content.

Google’s test, which began last year, is limited to a very small number of the company’s employees and their families and could be discontinued at any time, said the people familiar with the matter.

Viewers in the Google test, these people said, can search by typing queries, using a keyboard rather than a remote control. Google hopes to connect the service with its nascent TV ad-brokering business, allowing it to target ads to individual households based on search and viewing data.


I think this is the beginning of something wonderful. Google will be able to target individual STBs — in the same household, for example — and sell the context, just as they do today across millions of Web sites. How can you do that with video? Simple: use the audio track to identify context. Yeah, Microsoft can do that, too.

Bring it!


LEGO Creation: Star Wars Droid Control Ship

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010


 It took Paul Yperman two years and 30,000 pieces of LEGO to built it. Why?

Some years ago I walked into a second hand book shop and I bought a Star Wars Cross sections book. In the center stood the Droid Control Ship. It blew my mind and I knew I had to build it.

Looking for more pictures of the back -engines – of the ship, I soon found out that someone had done it earlier than I. Thomas Benedict -master builder -made a work of art of his Droid Control Ship. He was my inspiration an motivation. I wish to thank the greatest builder for his "help". Thanks a lot Thomas and keep building your super creations.

I used almost 30000 parts. Lots in the center globe that I build with the aid of a building program that I found on the web. 3500 tiles to cover the outside structure. Lots of Technic parts to make the inside frame, so I could move, lift and take it apart without breaking it. The technic parts are joined left/ right and top / bottom, resulting in a firm and solid almost selfcarrying structure.

Very cool.


No time to spare for such a project? Try the LEGO Portrait app on an iPhone.

WBMSAT Satellite Industry News Bits 03/05/2010

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Orbital Sciences reaches agreement to acquire spacecraft development and manufacturing business of General Dynamic’s subsidiary GD Advanced Information Systems.
[SatNews – 03/05/2010]

Air Force accepts WGS-3 from Boeing.
[UPI – 03/05/2010]

RRsat Global Communications Network signs agreement with ISG Media of India to provide fiber connectivity, playout and distribution for satellite broadcast in Europe and North America.
[SatNews – 03/05/2010]

SatMAX and TLC  Engineering offer SatMAX repeaters to aid Chile.
[CNN Money – 03/05/2010]

GlobecCast’s new Content Acquisition and Distribution division signs agreement with Chinese content provider ZN Animation to deliver content to Video on Demand viewers throughout Europe.
[SatNews – 03/05/2010]


GOES-P satellite, NASA and NOAA’s environmental satellite completing the N -O series,  is successfully launched from Cape Canaveral.
[NASA web site – 03/04/2010]

OmniGlobe Networks EMEA signs Letter of Intent to acquire entire issued share capital and assets of privately-held Sat-Comm Ltd.
[SatNews – 03/04/2010]

Telesat expresses support for Canadian government’s commitment to remove foreign ownership restrictions on Canadian satellite operators.
[SatNews – 03/04/2010]

Iridium provides satellite voice and data communications for 2010 Iditarod sled dog race.
[Market Watch – 03/04/2010]

European Satellite Operators Association representative takes part in  Commercial Satellite Critical Infrastructure Protection workshop with experts working on critical national security and emergency programmes from the European Commission, the US Department of State, and Department of Defense and others.
[SatNews – 03/04/2010]

TiVo wins court ruling against Dish Network and EchoStar for patent infringement with Digital Video Recorder software.
[Business Week – 03/04/2010]

Global VSAT Forum called upon to expand reach of the GVF VSAT Installation & Maintenance Training Programme.
[SatNews – 03/04/2010]

Texas senator proposes bill to extend space shuttle program.
[ – 03/04/2010]

U.S. Air Force investigates electrical mini-thrusters for possible use in satellite propulsion.
[PHYSORG – 03/03/2010]

Secretary of State Clinton delivers satellite phones in Chile following earthquake and tsumani.
[Kaiser Family Foundation – 03/03/2010]

Gilat is chosen by Satcom Systems to deliver SkyEdge II network for broadband internet connectivity in Africa.
[Market Watch – 03/03/2010]

iDirect announces launch of Talia Home by Talia Limited, providing consumer-focused internet and telephone communications service in MENA, using iDirect Evolution technology.
[SatNews – 03/03/2010]

Tachyon Networks announces availability of new end-to-en d fixed and mobile broadband satellit solutions for Southwest Asia using ultra-small aperture terminals.
[SatNews – 03/03/2010].

Earth’s day is shortened by earthquake in Chile.
[Time – 03/02/2010]

UN and Iridium rush satellite phones to Chili to help restore vital communications links.
[PC World – 03/02/2010]

MTN supplies satellite communications system for Oasis Of The Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship.
[Space Daily – 03/02/2010]

Upstar Comunicacoes selects Eutelsat to broadcast ZAP, the new satellite TV bouquet of Angola.
[PR Newswire – 03/02/2010]

New satellite mobile broadband service OverHorizon, based in Arlington, VA, selects Arianespace to launch its first satellite.
[Space News Examiner – 03/01/2010]

Millions of tons of water ice found at North Pole of Moon.
[ – 03/01/2010]

Russia launches 3 navigation satellites.
[Space Daily – 03/01/2010]

NASA announces plans to launch small cube-shaped satellites for educational and not-for-profit organizations.
[Space Daily – 03/01/2010]

SES WORLD SKIES announces plans to join leading broadcaster, programmers, TV makers, and technology providers in series of extensive tests aimed at accelerating delivery of 3DTV.
[SatNews – 03/01/2010]

Soldiers provide communications support in Haiti, working with a variety of networks and satellite links.
[DVIDS – 03/01/2010]

SatMAX receives 2nd U.S. Navy order for its satellite communications repeater system.
[CNN Money – 03/01/2010]

EchoStar to purchase SatMex.
[Multichannel News – 02/28/2010]

TRA grants Al Yah Satellite Communications Company a Satellite Services License.
[WAM – 02/28/2010]

Antarctic satellite broadband project wins funding under Australian Space Research Program.
[Computer World – 03/01/2010]

WBMSAT PS – Satellite Communications Consulting Services

Apps for the Army

Thursday, March 4th, 2010


 It was bound to happen: using an "app phone" in a combat zone. We’ve seen the DishPointer app in use in Aghanistan, and it probably won’t be long before a "tough" unit is out for warfighters in the field. Sure, there must be some proprietary software to keep it secure, but does it have to be so complicated?

Now the U.S. Army is throwing its considerable weight behind it with their "Apps for the Army" program:

Ever since we launched Apps for Democracy for DC’s Office of the CTO back in September 2008 the world has been a-buzz with “Apps for” contests. We recently released a guide for how to create your ownin order to make this kind of innovation method more accessible to people around the world. There are now about a dozen of these innovation contests being run by cities, national governments and various non-profits.

Today I’m happy to announce a new Apps initiative – one which iStrategyLabs has been contracted to create with the Army’s CIO/G6. A special thank you goes out to Tim O’Reilly – who envisioned this program and served as an advisor/connector to make it happen. Below you’ll find full details from the Army’s official media advisory (download as .DOC), and a summary is as follows:

  1. A media and bloggers’ roundtable will take place March 3 at 1:30 pm in the Pentagon, Room  1E462.  Lieutenant General Jeffery Sorenson (Army CIO) will discuss Apps for the Army and take questions. To attend the roundtable in person, or if you plan to call in, please contact: Ms. Ashley McCall-Washington at 703-614-1649 or [email protected]
  2. The competition runs from March 1st to May 15st 2010
  3. There are 40 employee cash awards totaling $30,000 for mobile and web apps
  4. Only 100 initial teams can participate
  5. Awards will be announced in June, with public demonstrations at LandWarNet
  6. Registration forms and other details can be found on AKO:
  7. will serve as a collaborative software repository
  8. RACE – a cloud based development sandbox will be provided. Participants can access a Windows server, Linux server and mobile app emulation software for Android and Blackberry. iPhone apps will need to be developed outside of RACE.
  9. MilBook’s Apps for the Army group will serve as the core collaboration space for all participants
  10. If you’re on twitter, use the hashtag #apps4army to follow the conversation

Video summary…


Cool approach by reaching to developers with real cash prizes.

For more on what’s happening out there, it’s always a good idea to keep up with Wired’s Danger Room:

In the military’s vision of future, the real trick will be getting information down to the individual soldier on the battlefield. Now the Army plans to test a smartphone for soldiers that will have mobile applications that could — in theory — access everything from technical manuals and maintenance records to maps and cultural intelligence.

In a discussion yesterday with reporters, Maj. Gen. Keith Walker, director of the Army’s Future Force Integration Directorate at Fort Bliss, Texas, said that around 200 soldiers would receive an “iPhone-like device” with digital apps installed.

Walker said the devices would have “various apps for system maintenance, instruction manuals — that we can all remotely upgrade. Also, we’re working to allow soldiers to have a distributed way of getting feedback to us on the equipment, where they can do Wikipedia-style upgrades to tactics, techniques and procedures, and comments on performance of hardware and software.”

Further down the road, Walker said he could envision tactical applications, like an app with GPS capability that could pinpoint the user’s location, or a digital tool that would allow troops to analyze terrain.

“This initiative we are moving out on,” Walker said. “We will see this happen this year.”

It’s part of a larger project called Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications. While there is not yet a definite plan to procure and field a combat iPhone, troops at Fort Bliss will experiment with the handset to test ways that some of these new technologies might actually be integrated into the force.

It’s not the only experiment underway at Fort Bliss. Soldiers of the service’s 5th Brigade, 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss are testing and evaluating pieces of the Army Brigade Combat Team Modernization plan — a more streamlined successor to the service’s now-defunct Future Combat Systems program. Other items being tested include a common controller, a Nintendo-style control that can be used to maneuver both the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle robot and the Class I Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (affectionately known as the “flying beer keg”).

 Need some imagination? Check out these gadgets and robots…



Mexican Slots for Charlie

Monday, March 1st, 2010


"Saludar a mi pequeño amigo!"

That’s right: say hello to my little friend. EchoStar is buying Satmex in a joint venture with MVS Comunicaciones:

Under the deal, EchoStar and MVS Comunicaciones, one of the largest media and telecommunications companies in Mexico and EchoStar’s partner in the Mexican direct-to-home TV service Dish Mexico, will take ownership of Satmex, that nation’s leading satellite operator that delivers video, audio and data services, through a joint venture.

According to the parties, EchoStar and MVS Comunicaciones will acquire all of the outstanding stock of Satmex for approximately $267 million in cash, plus up to $107 million in cash on the Mexican satellite operator’s balance sheet at closing.

As such, there will be up to $374 million for distribution to Satmex’s stakeholders. The transaction is expected to close early in the third quarter 2010.

In connection with the sale, Satmex said it intends to offer to purchase all of its outstanding senior secured notes for cash upon the closing of the sale of the Satmex shares.

Established in the mid-1980s as part of a government operation before becoming a commercial organization, Satmex, which has some 200 employees, owns and operates three satellites and two satellite uplink facilities, all of which are expected to be included as part of the transaction.

"We are pleased to make this announcement with EchoStar, a major provider of satellite services in the United States with a significant and growing presence in Mexico," said Satmex CEO Patricio Northland in a statement. "Our companies have common goals in delivering satellite communications services across the Americas, and EchoStar has the dedication and expertise for continued growth."

"The Satmex acquisition provides us with a footprint over Mexico and South America and presents us the opportunity to serve a growing global demand for satellite services," noted Dean Olmstead, president of EchoStar Satellite Services L.L.C. "We look forward to leveraging our satellite operations and uplink expertise in North America to expand our fixed satellite services throughout the Americas, including the delivery of satellite Internet to rural communities."

EchoStar set up the business a couple of years ago, a few years after they signed up with SES in the formation of QuetzSat S.R.L. de C.V. in the successful bid for the 77° West orbital location. The QuetzSat-1 satellite is expected to come into service in 2011.

Great move my EchoStar. Although Satmex 5 is a sickly HS-601, it still has several choice orbital locations and a decent business model. Satmex-6 is in much better shape (Loral FS-1300). This will definitely have a positive effect on DISH Network’s plans for Mexico, as well as Central and South America.

Way to go, Dean O!