Archive for December, 2009

WBMSAT Satellite Industry News Bits for December 31, 2009

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

U.S. government 20-year program to combine all government and military acquisitions of commercial satellite services, the Future Comsatcom Services Acquisition, may be worth up to $700m a year.
[Aviation Week – 12/31/2009]

Intelsat-704 replacement satellite, Intelsat-17, will be built by Space Systems/Loral.
[SatNews – 12/31/2009]

U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency awards three indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts for Commercial Satellite Synthetic Aperture Radar (COMSAR) imagery, data products, and direct downlink services.
[Satellite Today – 12/31/2009]

Telesat reportedly will purchase a new direct broadcast satellite, Nimiq 6, from Space Systems/Loral.
[TMCnet – 12/31/2009]

SES bids successfully for Protostar 2 at U.S.$185m; satellite will be integrated into its fleet to provide incremental capacity over Asia.
[SatNews – 12/30/2009]

Congress extends government indemnification of U.S. commercial launches for another three years.
[Satellite Today – 12/30/2009]

Broadcasters in the United States and Britain say the Iranian government has been jamming international satellite transmissions into the country.
[VOA News – 12/30/2009]

Majority of satellite companies responding to Satellite Today Quick Poll claim their businesses broke even in 2009, compared to 2008.
[Satellite Today – 12/30/2009]

Second attempt to launch French military satellite Helios 2B on Ariane 5 after 24 hour delay is successful.
{SatNews – 12/30/2009]

DirecTV 12 satellite built by Boeing, launched December 28, delivers its first signals from space.
[SpaceMart – 12/30/2009]

Russian scientists to meet in secret to work on plan to save Earth from collision with giant asteroid in 26 years.
[PHYSORG – 12/30/2009]

TLC, the winner of a U.S. GSA contract, will sell the SatMAX line of satellite communications extenders to U.S. government agencies and departments.
[TMCnet – 12/30/2009]

Bolivia, in cooperative project with China, expects to launch its first telecommunications satellite, Tupac Katari, in March 2010.
[Satellite Today – 12/29/2009]

Iran plans to unveil its second homemade satellite, national satellite Toloo, in February.
[Satellite Today – 12/29/2009]

ViaSat CEO Mark Dankberg interview lays out the ViaSat plan to become a satellite broadband provider with ViaSat 1 and the Wild Blue acquisition.
[San Diego Union-Tribune – 12/28/2009]

ORBCOMM settles insurance claims related to failures of a Coast Guard Demonstration satellite and three of five quick launch satellites which were all launched in June,2008; two quick launch satellites are still operating.
[TMCnet – 12/28/2009]

Orbital Sciences receives contract to build second high throughput satellite, HYLAS 2, for Avfanti.
[Manufacturing & Technology – 12/27/2009]

WBMSAT PS – Satellite Communications Consulting Services

WBMSAT Satellite Industry News Bits for December 24, 2009

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Orbital Sciences Corporation and Thales Alenia Space share prime contractor status on contract for new geosynchronous satellite with regenerative system for broadband serving mobile terminals, to be built for OverHorizon, with offices in the U.S., Sweden, and Cyprus.
[Space Ref – 12/23/2009]

International Launch Services prepares DIRECTV 12 for launch on December 29.
[SatNews – 12/23/2009]

GOES-R gets thumbs up for go-ahead under Lockheed Martin’s contract with NASA.
[SatNews – 12/23/2009]

Space debris cause a lot of problems in launching new satellites.
[Space Mart – 12/23/2009]
Related – NASA and DARPA sponsor first ever international conference on orbital debris removal, seen as a new business area – the big question, who will pay?
[Space Mart – 12/14/2009]

Avanti Communications Group of London orders up HYLAS-2 satellite from Orbital Sciences, to be based on Orbital’s STAR 2.4 satellite platform.
[SatNews – 12/23/2009]

HYLAS 2 satellite to be launched by Arianespace in 2012.
[Space Travel – 12/22/2009]

Arinc and Vizada rollout voice services over Inmarsat I-4 network.
[Satellite Today – 12/22/2009]

Chrisar Software Technoligies contracts with Applied Satellite Engineering to develop satellite data solution for whale watchers using Iridium satellites.
[Satellite Today – 12/22/2009]

The European Space Agency awards a contract to Ariane 5 rocket manufacturer for early development of new upper stage to increase the launcher’s capacity.
[Spaceflight Now – 12/21/2009]

China to launch civil HD survey satellite in 2011.
[Space Daily – 12/21/2009]

KVH’s mini-VSAT broadband service is granted permanent "Earth Station onboard – Vessel" or ESV license authority after operating since September 2007 under an FCC Special Temporary Authority (STA).
[PR Newswire – 12/21/2009

GOES-P satellite arrives at Kennedy Space Center for prelaunch testing.
[Space Mart – 12/21/2009]

Lockheed Martin completes site acceptance testing over the Inmarsat-4 satellite network and delivers the Global Satellite Phone Service gateway in Subic Bay to Inmarsat.
[SatNews – 12/20/2009]

Russia plans research into nuclear engines for spaceships beginning in 2010.
[SatNews – 12/20/2009]


Russian, U.S., and Japanese astronauts blast off for Christmas stay on board the International Space Station.
[SatNews – 12/20/2009]

North America DBS subscriber disconnects investigated by NSR – steady stream of subscribers switch from one to the other provider as "free" period expires – cumulative subscriber disconnects increased by 9% over past three years.
[NSR Report – December 2009]

Helios 2B finally makes it into orbit on December 18, aboard the seventh Ariane 5 launch of 2009.
[Space War – 12/19/2009]

WBMSAT PS – Satellite Communications Consulting Services


Known Universe: The Video

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009


By far the coolest space video ever, via the American Museum of Natural History:

After hovering over Mount Everest and the gorges that plunge to the Ganges, you are pulled through the Earth’s atmosphere to glimpse the inky black of space over Tibet’s high desert. So begins The Known Universe, a new film produced by the American Museum of Natural History that is part of a new exhibition, Visions of the Cosmos: From the Milky Ocean to an Evolving Universe, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City.

The magic of this film, though, happens as the inky black expands. Pulling farther and farther from Earth, you see the deep blue of the Pacific give way to night as the Sun comes into focus, the orbits of the solar system shrink smaller and smaller, the constellations Sagittarius and Scorpio stretch and distort, and, as the Milky Way receeds, the spidery structure of millions of other galaxies come into view. Then, you reach the limit of the observable universe, the afterglow of the Big Bang. This light has taken more than 13.7 billion years to reach our planet, and you return, back to Earth, to two lakes that are nestled between Mount Kailash and Mount Gurla Mandhata in the Himalayas.

The structure of The Known Universe is based on precise, scientifically-accurate observations and research. The Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History maintains the Digital Universe Atlas, the world’s most complete four-dimensional map of the universe. The Digital Universe started nearly a decade ago. It is continually updated and is the primary resource for production of the Museum’s Space Shows such as the current Journey to the Stars, and is used in live, real-time renderings for Virtual Tours of the Universe, a public program held on the first Tuesday of every month. Last year, some 30,000 people downloaded the Digital Universe to their personal computers, and the Digital Universe will soon be updated with a more accurate and user-friendly software interface. Digital Universe is licensed to many other planetariums and theaters world-wide.

“I liken the Digital Universe to the invention of the globe,” says Curator Ben R. Oppenheimer, an astrophysicist at the Museum. “When Mercator invented the globe, everyone wanted one. He had back orders for years. It gave everyone a new perspective on where they live in relation to others, and we hope that the Digital Universe does the same on a grander, cosmic scale.”

The new film was produced by Michael Hoffman, and directed by Carter Emmart. Brian Abbot manages and Ben R. Oppenheimer curates the Digital Universe Atlas. The exhibition at the Rubin, Visions of the Cosmos: From the Milky Ocean to an Evolving Universe, opened on December 11 and continues through May 10.

The animation was done in Uniview (SCISS AB)


WBMSAT Satellite Industry News Bits for December 18, 2009

Friday, December 18th, 2009

 Arianespace began 30 year history of launches with first European Space Agency launch from Kourou December 24, 1979 and never looked back.
[Space Travel – 12/18/2009]

SES wins auction, gets Protostar 2 satellite for U.S. $185 million; satellite will provide incremental capacity over Asia for SES.
[SatNews – 12/18/2009]

GeoEye-1 satellite shut down after antenna malfunction.
[Satellite Today – 12/18/2009]

GOES-14 enters full service; will be used to predict storms and monitor weather over 60% of the planet.
[SatNews – 12/18/2009]

Arianespace postpones the launch of French satellite Helios 2B a second time due to an anomaly.
[Satellite Today – 12/18/2009]

ViaSat finalizes acquisition of WildBlue Communications.
[Trading Markets – 12/18/2009]

Etisalat UAE signs multi-year contract for capacity on Intelsat’s recently launched Intelsat 15 satellite.
[SatNews – 12/18/2009]

DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-2 high-resolution satellite expected to achieve full operational capacity on January 4, 2010.
[SatNews – 12/18/2009]

Orbital Sciences is awarded a Phase 2 contract by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for "Future Fast, Flexible, Fractionated, Free-Flying" (System F6) spacecraft.
[SatNews – 12/18/2009]

FCC unveils a list of proposals to meet national broadband plan – FCC raises idea of forcing cable and satellite operators to provide low-cost set-top devices to integrate broadband and video services.
[Washington Post – 12/17/2009]

Eutelsat wins broadband capacity, distribution deals in Albania.
[Satellite Today – 12/17/2009]

Satellite users may see more sporting events as federal investigators seek to close a loophole that allows cable TV operators to withhold sporting events and programming they own from rival providers.
[Tennessean – 12/17/2009]

Inmarsat hits 5,000 FleetBroadband terminal activations.
[Satellite Today – 12/17/2009]

RT Logic develops software-defined modem for feeder link terminals for Iridium which will be deployed by Iridium at its ground stations.
[TMCnet – 12/17/2009]

Satellite TV may be only option for thousands of Hawkeye fans to see their team in the Orange Bowl, as a dispute between Mediacom Communications Corp. and Sinclair Broadcasting Group could leave cable subscribers without local channels.
[Forbes – 12/17/2009]

China launches first public-welfare mini satellite from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in northern Shanxi Province.
[Space Daily – 12/16/2009]

Telenor Satellite Broadcasting’s Thor 6 satellite completes in-orbit testing.
[Satellite Today – 12/16/2019]

MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates announces $254 million U.S. contract win to build and launch a communications satellite for the Ukrainian space agency.
[Vancouver Sun – 12/15/2009]

Russia orbits three new Glonass navigation satellites.
[GPS Daily – 12/15/2009]

Vizada connects satellite service to submarine fiber cable along the East Coast of Africa.
[Satellite Today – 12/15/2009]

Iridium OpenPort provides fishing vessels operating in high northern latitudes continuous coverage including 3 phone lines and a data line up to 128 kbps simultaneously.
[SatNews – 12/15/2009]

NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer blasted off from Vandenberg AFB on a mission to find hidden asteroids, comets, and other objects never before seen in space.
[R&D – 12/14/2009]

IoStar International Ltd. of Hong Kong is using more than a full Ku band transponder on Telesat’s Telstar 18 satellite to serve the communications needs of NATO troops.
[Satellite Today – 12/14/2009]

Orbital Sciences wins contract to build Intelsat 23 for Intelsat SA.
[Washington Business Journal – 12/14/2009]

Dish Network passes 14 million customer milestone.
[SatNews – 12/13/2009]

Small satellites grow in prominence and take on a growing number of operational roles alongside their full-size counterparts – a conference next year in Greece will discuss their evolution.
[R&D Magazine – 12/11/2009]

China launches remote-sensing satellite, "Yaogan VII", from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern Gansu Province.
[Space Mart – 12/11/2009]

While the satellite industry in general has been trumpeting its successes during the economic downturn, there are signs of weakness in a few key markets in North America.
[NSR Report – Global Assessment of Satellite Supply & Demand, 6th Edition]

Changes in programs, flux in budget, movements in personnel, and delays in decisions, while more bandwidth is required, characterize the government and military satcom market.
[NSR Report – Government and Military Satellite Communications, 6th Edition]

WBMSAT PS – Satellite Communications Consulting Service


Sports TV Loophole Closed

Thursday, December 17th, 2009


Shopping around for HD sports programming options in New York, you’re sure to find out you can’t get MSG-HD on Verizon’s FiOS TV. Why? It’s Jimmy’s channel and he wants it exclusively on Cablevision. Looking to add Comcast SportsNet HD to your DirecTV package in Philadelphia? No, sorry, not available.

How can they shortchange their viewing customers with this tactic? A 1992 law’s loophole. But not anymore as the FCC is looking to close it up quick, via WSJ

 The FCC’s Media Bureau will circulate an order Wednesday that would close the so-called terrestrial loophole used by companies including Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc. and Cablevision Systems Corp. to withhold local sports channels from rivals, an FCC official said.

If approved, the proposal would mean consumers could soon have more choice in pay-TV services. Sports fans who want to watch local baseball, hockey and other games at home wouldn’t be forced to subscribe to the largest local cable provider anymore.

In Philadelphia, for instance, fans of the Philadelphia Flyers, Phillies and Sixers can’t get games broadcast on Comcast’s SportsNet channel on DirecTV or Dish Network. In San Diego, subscribers to AT&T Inc.’s U-Verse television service can’t get San Diego Padres games, which are carried on a channel owned by Cox Communications.

The FCC’s move would be a victory for Dish Network Corp., DirecTV Group Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T, all of whom have had difficulties at one point or another trying to get programming—mostly regional sports channels—from a local cable provider.

"Consumers shouldn’t be forced to stick with their incumbent cable provider in order to have access to their local teams’ games, or to watch those games in high definition," a Verizon spokesman said in a statement.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the cable industry’s lobbying group, argued that exclusive distribution of channels "can be a pro-competitive tool."

"Exclusivity allows competing providers to invest in new services that have dramatically changed the marketplace, as can be witnessed by DirecTV’s overwhelming success with the NFL Sunday Ticket package," association spokesman Brian Dietz said.

The FCC requires cable operators to offer access to channels they partially or wholly own to rivals at reasonable rates, but some have used a loophole in a 1992 law to exclude local sports programming.

The loophole allows cable operators to withhold a channel from rivals if it is sent over a cable instead of beamed by satellite. Other pay-TV providers, including satellite TV and now phone companies, have complained to the FCC about the practice for years.

Last year, AT&T filed a complaint against Cox for denying it permission to air San Diego Padres games. Verizon filed a similar complaint against Cablevision for denying it access to a high-definition feed of games from Madison Square Garden.


IP-PRIME, the IPTV service scuttled by SES last year, had the same problem: they couldn’t get carriage rights to MSG-HD

With FiOS-TV moving in on Philly in a big way, we’ll finally get to see what competition will mean for us — the customers.

Too bad the FCC can’t do anything about the Rangers playing badly lately. Fire Sather?

WISE Spacecraft, Ey?

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009



NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer gave their acronym department a lay-up. They called it WISE and launched it a couple of days ago from Vandenburg:

WISE will see the infrared colors of the whole sky with sensitivity and resolution far better than the last infrared sky survey, performed 26 years ago. The space telescope will spend nine months scanning the sky once, then one-half the sky a second time. The primary mission will end when WISE’s frozen hydrogen runs out, about 10 months after launch.

Just about everything in the universe glows in infrared, which means the mission will catalog a variety of astronomical targets. Near-Earth asteroids, stars, planet-forming disks and distant galaxies all will be easy for the mission to see. Hundreds of millions of objects will populate the WISE atlas, providing astronomers and other space missions, such as NASA’s planned James Webb Space Telescope, with a long-lasting infrared roadmap.

JPL manages the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The mission was competitively selected under the Explorers Program, managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The science instrument was built by the Space Dynamics Laboratory in Logan, Utah, and the spacecraft was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo. Science operations and data processing take place at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. NASA’s Launch Services Program at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla., managed the payload integration and the launch service.

Launch video…


Very cool mission, managed by JPL and CalTech. Be sure to read their "top 10 factoids."


Satcom HDTV Rules!

Monday, December 14th, 2009

So who has the most HD? Dish Network, according to MedizBiz


Here Come the Judge

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

Judge says no to SES, via Space News

The U.S. bankruptcy court handling the sale of satellite operator ProtoStar Ltd.’s assets on Dec. 10 rejected a proposed deal between ProtoStar and prospective buyer SES, clearing the way for a wide-open Dec. 16 auction of the in-orbit ProtoStar 2 telecommunications satellite. SES is likely to confront at least one other serious bidder at the auction — Asiasat of Hong Kong — and may also face a bid from satellite fleet operator Intelsat, industry officials said. The Delaware Bankruptcy Court refused to accept ProtoStar’s proposed arrangement with SES under which SES agreed, in advance of the auction, to pay $185 million in cash for ProtoStar 2 on condition that it receive $6.3 million in compensation in the event it was outbid. That meant SES was assured of taking ownership of ProtoStar 2 unless another bidder was willing to pay more than $191.3 million for the satellite. Industry officials said the decision means ProtoStar 2 ultimately could sell for less than $185 million, depending on how badly Asiasat wants the spacecraft, a Boeing 601HP model launched in May and stationed at 107.7 degrees east longitude in geostationary orbit. It carries 27 Ku-band transponders and 13 S-band transponders. The S-band capacity is leased to Indostar and Indovision of Indonesia. SES and Asiasat both have orbital slots nearby and could move ProtoStar 2 to these positions without losing the Indonesian S-band business. Washington- and Bermuda-based Intelsat does not have an active orbital position in the neighborhood, but its representatives nonetheless have been active in the ProtoStar 2 preauction proceedings and attended the Dec. 10 hearing as well, according to bankruptcy court records of the meeting. Aside from SES, Asiasat and Intelsat, no other satellite operators or prospective buyers appeared at the court hearing, according to the list of attendees. Officials from all three companies declined Dec. 11 to discuss their strategies for ProtoStar 2. Intelsat won the ProtoStar 1 satellite at auction in late October, paying $210 million in cash. Intelsat plans to move the satellite, now called Intelsat 25, to 31.5 degrees west, where its C-band payload will provide communications links between Africa and the United States. The Ku-band payload will be used for a beam over West Africa, according to Intelsat.


DIY Friday: Secret Beer Fridge

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Via KuvatON, a Finnish photo blog…


WBMSAT Satellite Industry News Bits for December 11, 2009

Friday, December 11th, 2009


NASA’s scheduled Friday launch of Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer is rescheduled for December 14 because of problems discovered in a rocket booster steering engine.
[Chicago Sun Times – 12/11/2009]

Gilat Satellite Networks is chosen by STL Ghana to provide a SkyEdge II broadband satellite network to service its customers throughout West Africa.
[Space Mart – 12/10/2009]

UK to have dedicated space agency to direct its space policy and represent it in all dealings with international partners.
[BBC News – 12/10/2009]


Mysterious light display leaves Norwegians and astronomers puzzled; best guesses are a Russian missile test or a meteor.
[POPSCI – 12/10/2009]

Orbital Sciences’ Taurus II CASTOR 30 rocket motor successfully test fired.
[SatNews – 12/10/2009]

Globalstar expands distribution of SPOT satellite GPS Messenger to Argentina, Chile, and Paraguay.
[CNN Money – 12/10/2009]

Eutelsat signs contact with Italian telecoms operator Brennercom to deploy Eutelsat’s Tooway broadband satellite service in the Tyrol region.
[Satellite Today – 12/10/2009]


Chinese rocket launches with top secret spy satellite believed to be a military reconnaissance satellite.
[Spaceflight Now – 12/09/2009]

Launch of French military satellite from Kourou delayed at least a couple of days due to an anomaly in the launcher subsystem.
[Newsvine – 12/09/2009]

Signals acquired by Boeing from the third of six Wideband Global SATCOM satellites indicate that the spacecraft is healthy and ready to begin orbital maneuvers and operational testing.
[Space War – 12/09/2009]

Hughes and Sky Perfect JSAT provide capacity to expand satellite broadband services over Afghanistan.
[Satellite Today – 12/09/2009]

Vizada donates BGAN terminals to Humaninet, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating humanitarian organizations about the tremendous benefits of using satellite communications to support relief and development efforts.
[SatNews – 12/09/2009]


Virgin Galactic unveils space tourism’s new carrier, FSS Enterprise – cost for a 2 1/2 hour flight with five minutes of weightlessness: $200,000.
[R&D Magazine – 12/09/2009]

NASA still has not received approval for replacement of the failed Carbon-Observing Satellite which could provide baseline data for monitoring compliance with a new climate treaty being negotiated in Copenhagen.
[Spaceflight Now – 12/08/2009]

NASA announces competition for engineering students to develop ideas on how future explorers might live  on the moon.
[Space Travel – 12/08/2009]

NASA partners with Dynetics and the Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation to successfully complete environmental testing of the Fast, Affordable Science and Technology Satellite.
[SatNews – 12/08/2009]

Space elevator entrepreneurs pursue their improbable-sounding goal vigorously, claiming it could reshape the global economy.
[CNN Money – 12/08/2009]

SatLink Communications and SES WORLD SKIES launch a DS3 fiber link connecting their teleport facilities.
[SatNews – 12/08/2009]

International Datacasting Corp. completes acquisition of select terrestrial, satellite, and IP product lines and related technology from Logic Innovations.
[Satellite Today – 12/08/2009]

Avanti signs contract with Spanish service provider Satconxion to provide additional broadband capacity on the Hylas 1 satellite.
[Satellite Today – 12/08/2009]


325 ft. tall Ares I-X test rocket launched using attitude control system from decommissioned PeaceKeeper missiles.  Ares I rocket is to be used in the Constellation space program.
[Space Travel – 12/07/2009]

Over a hundred senior managers and experts from the European space industry, national agencies, and ESA attend conference in Geneva to learn about commercial opportunities offered by ESA’s planned data relay satellite system.
[Space Mart – 12/07/2009]

India hopes to join cryogenic rocket engine club with the launch of its heaviest rocket, the Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle, in January 2010.
[Space Travel – 12/07/2009]

P&L International announces state of the art phase array satellite communications system for cruise ships, super yachts, and airlines.
[PR Newswire – 12/07/2009]

Ariancespace marks 30th anniversary of Ariane’s first flight with celebration in Washington D.C.
[Space Travel – 12/07/2009]

Ideas on implementing an orbital debris removal capability were submitted in response to a Request for Information released in September; this week DARPA/NASA sponsored an International Conference on Orbital Debris Removal in Chantilly Virginia.
[SpaceMart – 12/07/2009] 

DTH in Central and Eastern Europe and Russia – more platforms, channels, and subscribers, but inevitable consolidation is seen in NSR report.
[NSR Global Direct to Home Markets, 2nd Edition – December 2009]

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