Archive for February, 2011

Blog That Hosted Payload

Friday, February 11th, 2011



Interested in government payloads hosted by commercial spacecraft? There’s a blog for that! That’s right, rocket scientists: Space News and Intelsat General put together a Drupal-based blog entitled "Hosted Payloads" last week. Good idea, but will you have enough content to sustain it?




 Satellite operators Intelsat and SES have been talking about it for years, so why not blog about it? Cisco’s IRIS is up, and CHIRP will be going up this year, with a second EGNOS payload on Sirius-5 to follow. Brilliant idea to get Intelsat to sponsor the "microsite."

The timing is actually pretty good. Today’s Wall Street Journal has a piece on space budgets and actually gives some ink to hosted payloads, with Intelsat saying it’s working on three hosted payloads…

Intelsat and other companies have also joined with some Pentagon offices to champion putting more "piggyback" military payloads aboard privately funded and operated satellites.

Such arrangements offer expanded surveillance and communication capabilities significantly faster than, and at a fraction of the cost of, building and launching military satellites. Intelsat has three such agreements in place with the U.S. government and is discussing several others, industry officials said.

What I find peculiar is the Pentagon is talking to two Luxembourg-based companies for hosted payloads. Why not talk to the home boys at U.S. Space LLC? I’d rather deal with Telesat, as they fly a WAAS payload on Anik F1R.

To really get a taste of the details and possibilities of hosted payloads, you should read the Jon Glass story in Excellent summary…

 "It’s the speed and cost efficiency that is really driving the government’s interest in this," adds Jeff Foust, senior analyst with Futron Corp., a technology-management consulting firm that helped organize several government/industry workshops on hosted payloads. "There’s a steady stream of opportunities for hosted payloads, because you have 20 to 25 commercial GEO satellites being ordered and launched every year, plus you have special opportunities such as Iridium NEXT that have a much larger number of satellites in a global system."

Because hosted payloads are relatively new, developing a set of policies and procedures that make it easier for government agencies and the private sector to partner on projects is a challenge. This includes developing mechanisms that regulate contracts and pricing as well as enable federal agencies to take advantage of available opportunities. Because of existing regulations and bureaucratic barriers, government agencies can find it difficult to move at the same speed as the private sector.

A key purpose of hosted-payload workshops has been to give industry and government officials a forum to identify potential barriers and begin to develop solutions. The important thing, notes Foust, is that with the new U.S. space policy, government supporters of hosted payloads now have the official backing of the administration to pursue opportunities.

"It’s a trite phrase, but the use of hosted payloads has the potential to be a win-win," adds Foust. "It’s an opportunity for the industry to maximize potential revenue by making use of satellite capacity that otherwise might go unused. For the government side, it provides a greater degree of flexibility to get important payloads up faster and less expensively than the traditional way of doing business. There’s a great potential here to do more with less and provide some real savings to the taxpayers."

Oh, and SES WorldSkies has a blog now, too. Good luck commenting on that one. SEO, anyone?

Space Truckin’

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011


Arianespace’s 200th mission will carry its heaviest payload: the ATV-2 Johannes Kepler.  The launch is set for 15 February 2011, from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. A space cargo robot, it will dock with the ISS at 28,000 k/ph. I like to call it a "space truck" — with fireworks. 

That’s right, fireworks. When its mission is done, it will re-enter the atmosphere and break up over the South Pacific. Awesome.


WBMSAT News Bits February 4, 2011

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Orbital Sciences will pay $10 million over several years for 20 percent of Iridium Next hosted capacity.
[Satellite Today – 02/04/2011]

Program problems and budget restrictions change thinking on how military space capabilities should be developed and deployed.
[Aviation Week – 02/04/2011]

KVH Industries completes major capacity increase across three key regions of its global mini-VSAT Broadband satellite communications network.
[SatNews – 02/04/2011]

Hughes Europe, subsidiary of Hughes Network Systems, sells seventh HX hub to international satellite Internet services provider Bentley Walker for Caribbean and South America.
[SatNews – 02/04/2011]

Leaks reveal Chinese-U.S. tensions over anti-satellite tests by both countries.
[Global Security Newswire – 02/03/2011]




Pentagon report warns that field of space debris is so dense that a single collision between satellites could set of an uncontrolled chain reaction capable of destroying the communications network on earth.
[The Telegraph – 02/03/2011]

SES WORLD SKIES signs capacity extension with TIBA to enable distribution of an expanding lineup across Latin America through 2030.
[SatNews – 02/03/2011]

Globalstar hails FCC decision to allow LightSquared to use mobile satellite spectrum for terrestrial-only devices as necessary and looks forward to similar decisions benefitting Globalstar and other mobile companies.
[IEWY – 02/03/2011]

Comtech EF Data and Tachyon to jointly develop airborne COTM solutions delivering the highest bandwidth airborne terminals available in the industry.
[SatNews – 02/03/2011]

Vizada to release new Viznet DVB-S2/ACM-based broadband platform.
[Satellite Today – 02/03/2011]

Gilat Satellite Networks selected to provide SkyEdge II broadband network to a defense agency for military communications.
[Defence Professionals – 02/03/2011]

Telespazio Argentina signs contract to provide Mobile Tele-offices using C-COM’s auto-pointing  iNetVu antenna systems to Argentina Ministry of Interior.
[SatNews – 02/03/2011]

Last minute deal saves Super Bowl telecast, temporarily ending dispute that had kept Fox programming off DirecTV’s system for weeks.
Connect Amarillo – 02/03/2011]




Independent global study confirms IsatPhone Pro as the ultimate handheld satellite phone.
[Business Wire – 02/03/2011]

u-blox introduces ultra-compact MAX-6 family of GPS modules.
[SatNews – 02/03/2011]

Israel and the European Space Agency sign cooperation agreement to identify common areas of mutual interest, notably in the area of space science and exploration.
[SatNews – 02/02/2011]

Russia loses contact with military satellite launched Feb. 1.
[GPS World – 02/02/2011]

Orbcomm’s last remaining AIS-capable low-Earth orbit satellite fails; AIS service down.
[Satellite Today – 02/02/2011]

Hughes Network Systems selected by Boeing to provide the Ground Communications Network for the MEXSAT Satellite Based Network system.
[PR Newswire – 02/02/2011]

First flight of Russia’s Soyuz-ST-B carrier rocket from the European space center in French Guiana is set for August 31, 2011.
[SatNews – 02/02/2011]

Orbital Sciences contracts with Thales Alenia Space for Iridium Next systems integration and testing.
[Trading Markets – 02/02/2011]

German satellite service provider atrexx finalizes largest ground services contract, for connecting a major European country’s embassy sites in Africa and the Middle East with VSAT technology.
[SatNews – 02/02/2011]

Frequency Electronics receives major contract from Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems to supply on-board timing and frequency generation components for MEXSAT system.
[Globe Newswire – 02/02/2011]

KVH unveils new KVH CommBox(tm) Ship/Shore Network Manager at Digital Ship Scandinavia Conference.
[SatNews – 02/02/2011]

Comtech Xicom TWTAs to feature touch-screen control interfaces.
[Satellite Today – 02/02/2011]

Looking to aid Egyptians?  Perhaps you want to "Buy This Satellite."
[Time – 02/02/2011]

Marine Instruments selects Quake Global modems for satellite tracking of vessels and buoys in the open ocean.
[Business Wire – 02/02/2011]

Dish Network to buy hybrid satellite and terrestrial communications company DBSD for $1 billion.
[Denver Business Journal – 02/01/2011]

Raytheon completes acquisition of Applied Signal Technology.
[Satellite Today – 02/01/2011]

India’s space agency focuses on manned spaceflight, lunar exploration, and planetary probes, and considers a Moon mission.
[TMCnet – 02/01/2011]

Globecomm Systems wins $2.6 million contract to provide turnkey RF electronics install for multiple Telemetry, Tracking & Control Earth stations.
[SatNews – 02/01/2011]

Optus orders Irdeto conditional access technology to extend customer access to its satellite digital-only and HDTV channels in Australia.
[Satellite Today – 02/01/2011]

Stratos introduces BGAN Humanitarian Pricing plans for first responders.
[PR Newswire – 02/01/2011]

PolarSat introduces 8-PSK modulation capability on VSATPlus3 modem.
[Satellite Today – 02/01/2011]

Metamaterials hold promise of lighter, more efficient antennas for satellites.
[R&D Magazine – 01/31/2011]




European Space Agency investigates novel self-aligning flat antennas.
[R&D Magazine – 01/31/2011]

UK Space Agency selects Amsat-UK to provide its FunCube hardware board sets for the agency’s first satellite UKube-1.
[Satellite Today – 01/31/2011]

Gilat’s Spacenet receives multi-year contracts for over 27,000 lottery sites.
[Trading Markets – 01/31/2011]

Integral Systems Incorporated wins $13 million plus contract modification from US Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center to consolidate satellite ground systems.
[SIGNALSCAPE – 01/31/2011]

Hughes Network Systems receives TMCnet Satellite Spotlight Product of the Year Award.
[PR Newswire – 01/31/2011]

WBMSAT PS satellite communications systems services

DIY Friday: Captain America Shield

Friday, February 4th, 2011



I had cable TV for many years, then switched to Dish Network for a few. Along comes HDTV and I went back to cable just so I could get MSG-HD (Let’s Go Rangers!). Dolan says forget you (check the Cee Lo Green song for proper pronunciation), so I get a deal on DirecTV bundled with Verizon Phone+DSL. Waiting for FiOS-TV, thought that would be a good idea. That’s not happening in my neighborhood, and DirecTV’s signal attenuation (rain fade) was driving me nuts, so back to DISH I west. Brilliant move as they’re now splitting the U.S. up into and East & West scheme: east coast capacity is at 61.5 West, and the west coast is using 129 West et. al. Better look angle for me and the signal is super — no loss at all and plenty of HD content. Price is right, too.

So now what am I supposed to so with the old reflector? We’ve featured quite a few DIY projects that recycle or re-use old satellite antennas. From using an old Primestar reflector to improve WiFi, to the wireless Internet cantenna, to more physical structures such as this BUD gazebo and the ever-popular solar cooker. Not to mention one for the birds



With the Captain America movie set to release this summer (Hollywood’s run out of ideas again), it was inevitable somebody would get to taking an old dish and making it into a shield, via Instructables contributor seamster

 I’m not really into comics and the like, but I had been wanting to make a Captain America shield for some time.

I originally tried using an old plastic sled, but it gave me all sorts of grief. The type of plastic would not take paint very well (not even Krylon Fusion for plastics), or any type of adhesive that I tried.

I eventually came across a used satellite dish, and with a little bit of modifying this turned out to the be best option for a Captain America shield. It will make a great gift for someone this year.

If you are interested in making one of these, you may have to do a bit of searching and asking to find a used satellite dish. I’ve seen them show up at thrift stores from time to time. Keep your eyes open, and you should be able to find one.

Great idea — and execution, too.




It’s All Greek TV in Portsmouth

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011



 £1,000 per month for English Premier League football? Are you out of your bloody mind?

That may or not have been Karen Murphy’s sentiment when she balked at paying B-Sky-B that much to show English soccer matches in her pub in Southern England, The Red White & Blue. You’d have to sell a lot of draught beer & ale to make ends meet, mate.



So she did what many Europeans do: get a satellite receiver from another country and watch their channel for the content you want. It’s true some go further and pay a one-time purchase and get a black-market decoder card and watch thousands of channels, FTA and premium, for nothing, forever (or until they change their encryption). I’ve seen it myself; happens all the time.

She gets a satellite receiver from Greece, points her antenna at Eutelsat’s Hotbird location (13° East) and that’s where she found Nova Sports, the channel with Premier League broadcast rights in Greece. Good move as the signal’s pretty hot in Southern England. B-Sky-B and the Premier League got pretty hot themselves and she was fined quite a few quid. She decides to take them to court — in Luxembourg.

Not exactly a Luxembourgish court, rather the European Court of Justice, which happens to be located there. Who else is based there? Why, ironically, it’s SES S.A., owners of the ASTRA Satellite System and arch rival to Eutelsat. Oh, and you should know, they also became as successful as they are today thanks to B-Sky-B, the anchor tenant on the 28.2 East orbital location. You’ll also recall B-Sky-B owes their success to gaining the exclusive rights to Premier League broadcasts in the U.K.

The legal opinion, prepared by a senior ECJ figure known as an Advocate General, is submitted in advance of a court ruling that usually follows several months later. The ruling will serve as a guideline for how European law should be applied to the case.

The announcement Thursday could have big implications for BSkyB, which has become Britain’s biggest pay-TV operator by owning the exclusive rights to show live Premier League matches in the U.K.

"In the view of Advocate General [Juliane] Kokott, territorial exclusivity agreements relating to the transmission of football matches are contrary to European Union law," the ECJ said in a statement.

"European Union law does not make it possible to prohibit the live transmission of premier league matches in pubs by means of foreign decoder cards."




Good show! Poetic justice, anyone?