Archive for the ‘Communications’ Category

No TV? No Internet? Try Satcom.

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

First thought upon hearing the news of Usama bin Laden’s demise was “that’s an interesting name for a Pakistani city.” No, Abbottabad wasn’t named after Bud Abbott, originally from Asbury Park, NJ. “Hey, Abbott! I’m a bad boy,” is the signature one-liner from another Jersey guy, Lou Costello of Paterson. The city was actually named after Major John Abbott, an Indian Army Officer.

So U.S. intelligence found no telephone or Internet connection for this “fortress” in Pakistan, which they thought was remarkable in a neighborhood such as this. Judging from the widely published architectural rendering, I’d conclude they had a satellite antenna capable of two-way communications. Not impossible to intercept, but that depends on encryption and which spacecraft is being used.

Wouldn’t it be funny if they were using the SES satellites at 57° East? Both NSS-12 and NSS-703 provide plenty of two-way satcom services, and the look angle is favorable. However, the rendering shows the antenna pointed toward the southwestern horizon, suggesting perhaps one of the Arabsat birds. We’ll follow up on that.

Amazing how close it was to Pakistan’s “West Point.”


WBMSAT Satellite Industry News Bits 04/15/2011

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Global satellite machine-to-Machine (M2M) service revenues to reach $1.7B by 2017 according to new Gobal Industry Analysts report.
[San Francisco Chronicle – 04/15/2011]

U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency wants to lease a single commercial satellite for 15 years for $440M, meeting 78% of U.S. Central Command’s requirements in Afghanistan and Iraq while dramatically cutting costs.
[Next Gov – 04/15/2011]

Cheetah “Morale Satellite” system provides free phone calls home and fast Internet connectivity for soldiers in Afghanistan.
[DIVIDS – 04/15/2011]

Comtech receives $1.2M satellite ground station equipment order from a large integrator for a military requirement in a Latin American country.
[Your Industry News – 04/15/2011]

Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kan) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb) in an open letter ask fellow senators to call on FCC to stop LightSquared from deploying its nationwide LTE network until it proves service does not interfere with GPS services.
[Fierce Wireless – 04/15/2011]

Space Data Association announces full operational capability of its Space Data Center, established by commercial satellite operators to improve the safety and efficiency of space operations.
[SatNews – 04/14/2011]

United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carries National Reconnaissance Office’s L-34 secret satellite payload aloft from Vandenberg.
[SatNews – 04/14/2011]

Arianespace to launch ASTRA 2E satellite for SES ASTRA in 2013.
[Brahmand – 04/14/2011]

New way to cool military satellite payloads to be tested by Northrop Grumman Corporation with an experiment on the International Space Station.
[SatNews – 04/14/2011]

Newtec extends invitation to all to join their 2011 Business Seminar “How to Keep Satellite Services Profitable” in Miami May 11 and 12, with first day capped by leisurely cruise and dinner.
[SatNews – 04/14/2011]

ITT successfully concludes Critical Design Review for imaging payload for the Worldview-3 Earth observation satellite being built for DigitalGlobe.
[SatNews – 04/14/2011]

Iridium excecutive states that the biggest opportunity ever for placing hosted payloads aboard telecommunications satellite system (the 66-satellite next generation Iridium system) may be lost because of slow-moving government bureaucracies.
[Space News – 04/14/2011]

Gilat’s SkyEdge II Broadband Satellite Network selected by Telecom Namibia to provide hundreds of locations throughout Namibia with VOIP and Internet services.
[SatNews – 04/14/2011]

New satellite to be launched from Kodiak Alaska, TACSAT-4, will carry UHF payload in highly elliptical orbit that will allow soldiers to communicate from deep canyons rather than out in the open, saving lives, though only available 6-7 hours a day.
[National Defense – 04/14/2011]

Advantech Wireless signs contract with Hoje Telecom of Brazil to provide VSAT upgrade hub, RF equipment, and more than 1,000 remote terminals.
[SatNews – 04/14/2011]

Globalstar Europe Satellite Services, in conjunction with Globalstar Avrasya of Turkey, provisioned to cover all of European sub-continent as well as northern Africa, Middle East, and most of Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic ocean maritime region.
[SatNews – 04/14/2011]

U.S. Air Force awards Integral Systems $6.99M contract for Rapid Attack Identification, Detection, and Reporting System to provide near real-time detection, characterization, geolocation, and electromagnetic Interference reporting for critical satellite communication systems.
[SatNews – 04/14/2011]

Dynetics and Pratt & Whitney join Rocket City Space Pioneers team competing for Google $30M Lunar X Prize to be awarded to first team to build and launch to the moon a privately funded spacecraft capable of completing a series of exploration and transmission tasks.
[SatNews – 04/14/2011]

MDA signs contract worth more than $40M to provide technology support for satellite communications and information service for a confidential customer.
[Windsor Star – 04/14/2011]

92,708 total registered attendees for 2011 NAB show in Las Vegas, with 25,691 international attendees and 1,314 news media, beating 2010 final attendance of 88,044.
[SatNews – 04/13/2011]

German aerospace contractor approved for taking lead role in designing European data relay satellite to promptly relay images of Earth from orbiting spacecraft back to ground stations.
[Spaceflight Now – 04/13/2011]

Top Azerbaijani official says country will launch communications satellite in 2012.
[RFE/RL – 04/13/2012]

Russia plans to test a next-generation spacecraft, build a new cosmodrome and even consider a manned mission to Mars after 2035.
[R&D Magazine – 04/13/2011]

China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology announces launch of eighth satellite of the Beidou-2 global navigation system aboard a Long March 3A rocket on April 10, 2011.
[Examiner – 04/13/2011]

RRSAT grows global broadcast network to over 590 channels featuring SD, HD, and 3D formats and increased number of playout centers in Israel and U.S.
[PR Newswire – 04/13/2011]

Arqiva will launch dedicated DVB-S2 MPEG-4 shared platform at Los Angeles teleport, affording broadcasters and mobile providers access to 100% of U.S. cable headends via SES WORLD SKIES’ AMC-10 satellite.
[TMCnet – 04/13/2011]

Raytheon leads team bidding on U.S. Air Force Launch and Test Range System (LTRS) Integrated Support Contract (LISC).
[Defense – Aerospace – 04/13/2011]

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approves merger of XM Canada and Sirius Canada.
[Satellite Today – 04/13/2011]

Intelsat’s New Dawn African satellite rescheduled for April 22 launch.
[Engineering News – 04/12/2011]

SES ASTRA Platform Services opens new playout centre near Munich, significantly expanding capabilities to provide broadcasters and production houses around the world with state-of-the-art playout and platform services.
[SatNews – 04/12/2011]

Harris to deliver shipboard satellite communications terminals to Canadian Navy.
[Satellite Spotlight – 04/12/2011]

SES WORLD SKIES announces AMC-3 C-band capacity deal with Weigel Broadcasting to deliver new digital ME TV channel to broadcast stations and viewers across U.S.
[Business Wire – 04/12/2011]

GMPCS unveils IsatTruck vehicular satellite phone package.
[PR Web – 04/12/2011]

TeleCommunications Systems selected as participant in FCSA contract allowing government agencies to procure services from commercial satellite services providers.
[Market Wire – 04/12/2011]

NSR press release – Revenues for Broadband Satellite Satellite Services to Exceed S$9 Billion by 2020.
[NSR – 04/12/2011]

GlobeCast selects Eurobird 9A to launch HD distribution platform.
[Indian Television – 04/12/2011]

Level 3 buys Global Crossing in effort to create a networking giant.
[Business Insider – 04/11/2011]

Maiden voyage of Ocean Star Pacific, first ship of the first national cruise line based in Mexico, to offer MTM satellite communications VSAT, crew calling, and Internet services.
[PR Newswire – 04/11/2011]

Qatar plans early 2013 launch of its high-powered communications satellite Es’Hail, being built under joint investment with Eutelsat.
[Gulf Times – 04/11/2011]

TerreStar GENUS satellite-enabled cellular smartphone provides expanded voice and data roaming coverage for mobile users.
[SatNews – 04/10/2011]

Iran’s claims about satellite service raise difficult question for ITU – “Can regulators refuse to accept word of sovereign nation about its own assets even if they are convinced it is lying?”
[Spacenews – 04/08/2011]

NSR Report “Broadband Satellite Markets” – VSAT networking and broadband access continue gains; a turning point for IP trunking.
[NSR – May 2011]

NSR Report “Global Satellite Manufacturing and Launch Markets” – 109 payloads were carried by 74 launch missions worldwide over the past 12 months, down from 2009 by 6.5%.
[NSR – May 2011]

Raytheon seeks new applications for System designed to communicate with deeply submerged swiftly moving submarines using satellites and underwater communications systems tied to buoys, since Navy has yet to come to decision on deployment.
[National Defense Magazine – May 2011]

NSR upcoming – HTS and KA-SAT: “Changing the European Telecom Landscape” – An Interview with Eutelsat.
[gotomeeting – May 24, 2011]

WBMSAT PS satellite communications systems services

ITU: Bring It

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Good move by the ITU, ITSO and Intelsat

ITU reached agreement with Intelsat S.A. and the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO) to strengthen emergency telecommunication resources. The collaboration aims to quicken the response to restore vital communications infrastructure in the aftermath of natural disasters.

“Recent catastrophes that have wrought havoc around the world demonstrate eloquently that there is an increasing need for effective and timely deployment of telecommunication resources to help countries in emergency and disaster relief,” said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré. “This agreement between ITU, Intelsat and ITSO will go a long way in increasing our early response capabilities and in re-establishing the communication links that are so vital in rescue and relief operations.”

Recognizing that satellite technology, with its ubiquitous coverage and rapid deployment, is ideally suited for response to communications needs in emergency situations, the agreement between ITU, Intelsat and ITSO brings together key players in the satellite industry to address the emergency communications needs of countries worldwide. Following the request from a Member State for assistance in the aftermath of a natural disaster, ITU will inform Intelsat of the request for satellite capacity and other related needs. Intelsat will then consult with ITSO and consider donating satellite capacity.

Intelsat is one of the world’s leading providers of satellite telecommunications services, with a footprint covering over 200 countries. ITSO is an intergovernmental organization with a mission to ensure that Intelsat complies with its contractual obligations following its privatization in 2001 to provide international public telecommunications services, including voice, data and video, on a global and non-discriminatory basis.

ITSO Director General José Toscano said, “When emergencies occur in remote or geographically isolated places, satellite providers like Intelsat are often the ideal solution for solving the communications needs.”

“Intelsat, with over 50 satellites in orbit around the world, is often the enabler of the first communications links re-established following a natural disaster. We will collaborate with ITU and ITSO to streamline the provisioning of connectivity and communications infrastructure that support critical humanitarian services during emergencies,” said Intelsat CEO Dave McGlade.

The agreement between ITU, Intelsat and ITSO is an outcome of the Hyderabad Plan of Action adopted by the World Telecommunication Development Conference in 2010 that called for private sector participation to help close the gap in universal access to information and communication technologies (ICT) and to support emergency communications in particular.

Give Me Fuel

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

The most significant real news coming out of last week’s Satellite 2011 show in Washington was the contract between Intelsat and MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) of Canada to re-fuel orbiting geosynchronous spacecraft. If successful, it has the potential of shifting the economics of satcom services. MDA has the experience and it takes away some of the thunder created by ViviSat earlier this year.

MDA has been pitching this business for years now, and the people managing the spacecraft could not find a way to (1) accept the engineering risk, and (2) see the financial benefits.  The scenario was adroitly summarized by Peter de Selding’s piece in Space News

  • Intelsat will select one of its satellites nearing retirement to be moved into a standard graveyard orbit some 200 to 300 kilometers above the geostationary arc 36,000 kilometers over the equator. It is the most used orbital highway for telecommunications satellites.
  • Richmond, British Columbia-based MDA will launch the SIS servicer, which will rendezvous and dock with the Intelsat satellite, attaching itself to the ring around the satellite’s apogee-boost motor.
  • With ground teams governing the movements, the SIS robotic arm will reach through the nozzle of the apogee motor to find and unscrew the satellite’s fuel cap.

The SIS vehicle will reclose the fuel cap after delivering the agreed amount of propellant and then head to its next mission.

MDA Chief Executive Daniel E. Friedmann said in a conference call with investors that MDA has identified more than 40 different types of fueling systems and that the SIS will carry a toolkit designed to open most of them.
Steve Oldham, president of MDA’s newly formed Space Infrastructure Services division, told reporters here March 15 that SIS will be carrying enough tools to open 75 percent of the fueling systems aboard satellites now in geostationary orbit.

Oldham said each mission will last two or three weeks.

So the potential is there for MDA — and you’ve got to give Intelsat credit for looking into the future potential like they’ve got a set. Other operators seem content to wait and see if it works — for now. With 52 orbiting spacecraft, Intelsat is in a good position to give it a go.

Andy Pasztor’s story in the Wall Street Journal latched on to the real financial potential for Intelsat: reselling the service to government customers who have their own spacecraft in need of refueling:

But the seven-year, $280 million contract announced Tuesday is the culmination of MacDonald Dettwiler’s efforts to take the lead in shifting from demonstrations and research to using the technologies in real-world applications.

“This takes it out of the realm of science fiction,” said Kay Sears, president of Intelsat’s government-services unit. “We don’t need to study it any more, we’re going to do it.” Intelsat, based in Luxembourg but with its main office in Washington, operates the largest global commercial-satellite fleet.

By pairing a sophisticated robotic service vehicle with what essentially amounts to an orbiting gas station for satellites, MacDonald Dettwiler intends to shuttle fuel to satellites reaching the end of their normal operational lives of between 10 and roughly 15 years.

Unlike concepts favored by rivals, the Canadian system is designed to have the mobile servicing vehicle disconnect from satellites after they are refueled, a process likely to take several weeks.

According to Ms. Sears, Intelsat chose that approach because it affords maximum flexibility to subsequently move rejuvenated satellites around as market conditions change.

In addition to using the venture to assist Intelsat’s own fleet of more than four dozen satellites, Ms. Sears said the company has the exclusive right to market the first-of-a-kind services to the Pentagon and other prospective U.S. government customers operating satellites, including spy agencies.

Once the venture gains momentum, she said, “it’s going to change the industry” and offer U.S. government officials “a nice opportunity to use a cost-effective” solution to avoid huge replacement costs for certain aging satellites.

This creates a new market in the space business, so I’d expect ViviSat’s simplified solution to gain some traction with other operators in the near future.

Malagasy Cup Uses Satcom to Stay Connected

Friday, October 26th, 2007

We recognize the what cup? might be your first response to the title of this post. What is this, as Rocco asked, a geography lesson?

Well, sort of. Malagasy, of course, refers to Madagascar, and the Malagasy Cup is a race from Anakao to Andavadoaka “for traditional Malagasy vessels, boutry and pirogue/lakarna vezo…. with dozens of vessels making the 200 kilometre journey in five stages stopping at: Tulear; Ifaty; Salary; Ambatamilo and finally Andavadoaka.”

Anakoa looks particularly inviting to us on this gray rainy East Coast of America day:

Vizada is helping the general public follow the race:

 New video satellite communications will make it possible for the general public to follow the five stages of the Malagasy Cup…  occurring along the Madagascar Coast. This is because Vizada (formerly FTMSC) and Satellite Air Time will manage the race communications as well as communicate photos and videos from these remote areas. The BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) service will allow journalists to follow the race as well as to send video and photo reports from the race’s five, staging point villages. The BGAN laptop sized satellite terminal uses high-speed Internet connections of up to 492 kbps to send large volume of data in areas that lack mainstream telecom networks.

Iridium satphones will allow competitors and organizers the ability to stay in permanent contact with the capital city, Antananarivo, as 200 canoes and 30 dhows cross the staring line of the Malagasy Cup. This is a 200 km race along the world’s third largest reef in southwest Madagascar and offers a unique opportunity to showcase the traditional sailing boats of the Vezo “people of the sea” as well as the preserved landscape of this area of the world.

Vizada is also a reseller of aeronautical satcom services from Inmarsat; two days ago, they announced the release of Swiftbroadband, which is “Inmarsat’s first fully IP-based, high-speed data service offering broadband in-flight connectivity including both cockpit communications and cabin applications.”

But back to Madagascar. Among its many fascinating natural wonders are lemurs; check out this video on YouTube to experience them firsthand.