Archive for September, 2012

Shopper, Hopper, Topper!

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Sports. Lots of people like watching it live because the outcome is unknown. Movies and TV series can have predictable outcomes, and news network can be a bore to some. The major sport leagues know this to be true. So do the broadcasters who carry them. They get advertising revenues, and those on pay-tv services get additional revenue from subscriber fees.

Sports continues to be the driver for moving HDTVs into many homes in America. And for cable and satellite companies. I’ve gone from cable to satellite to cable again, and now I’m set with DISH Network. I refuse to pay Jimmy Dolan $78 per month for a basic cable package, so I’m sticking with Charlie. But I still have to choose between channel packages/bundles. Which doesn’t include AMC or MSG. Let them fight it out.

Sure, I can edit the channels I surf, but why must I pay for 20 shopping channels? Some people say the same for sports channels. Charlie’s mother doesn’t watch sports, so why can’t we just pick and choose the channels we want to watch — and pay only for those. DISH Network’s Hopper STB lets viewer skip ads, so why not let subscribers get only channels they want? How about an “over the top” service via the Internet?

Yeah, here it comes — millions are ready to make the switch. The report, via Ad Age

Dish Network is talking to networks such as Viacom’s MTV about offering their channels over the internet, a service that could shift the economics of the pay-TV industry, five people familiar with the plan said.

In addition to Viacom, the negotiations involve the Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Communications and Scripps Networks Interactive, owner of the Food Network and HGTV, said the people, who asked not to be named because the talks are private. The companies would offer an online product known as an over-the-top service, charging a lower price for a smaller bundle of channels viewable on a computer or tablet.

Dish’s service would change the dynamics of the pay-TV business, whereby customers are forced to pay for bundles with channels they don’t watch. It also gives Dish a way to avoid its biggest programming expense: sports. Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN gets as much as $5.13 each month for every cable and satellite subscriber, compared with the industry’s average of 26 cents, according to SNL Kagan.

“That’s when you could start seeing a few cracks in the ecosystem,” said Alan Gould, a media analyst at Evercore Partners. “The addition of an over-the-top service would be significant.”

The effort would mark the biggest attempt to create an online service with live cable channels, a break from the approach taken by Netflix and Hulu. For Dish, the move would decrease its reliance on its satellite-TV service, which ranks second to DirecTV in U.S. customers. This also gives it a way to undercut pay-TV competitors on price.

Cable networks, meanwhile, have been reluctant to break up their suite of channels and sell them a la carte because it would lower the amount of available advertising inventory. Viacom and other cable networks typically sell ads at a lower rate than the big broadcast networks such as CBS Corp., so they rely on volume.

Viacom would be willing to sell smaller bundles of its networks, which also include Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, at a higher rate per channel than it does for its full complement of programming, according to two executives familiar with the situation.

Spokesmen for Dish, Viacom, Scripps and Univision declined to comment.

A central question is whether consumers want smaller bundles that lack sports programming. Several pay-TV operators, including Dish and Time Warner Cable, already offer cheaper packages that don’t include sports. ESPN — admittedly a network with a horse in the race — says those offerings aren’t very popular. “History shows that very few households subscribe,” said Amy Phillips, a spokeswoman for ESPN, the biggest cable sports network.

Dish offers a $20-per-month satellite package without ESPN, though it also lacks other top channels such as MTV and HGTV. Cable and satellite companies’ agreements with ESPN typically require the video distributors to include the sports network in their most popular tier of TV service.

Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen, who co-founded the company, has said there will be a day when a pay-TV operator chooses not to include sports in order to charge $10 to $20 per month less than competitors.

“My mom doesn’t watch sports,” Mr. Ergen said during a conference call last month. “I’ve got neighbors who don’t want sports. I’ve got friends who go to the bars or the neighbors’ house to watch sports.”

Bring on the “DISH Topper!”

Toy Train in (Near) Space

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

I love this! Via A Toy Train in Space

On Aug 24th 2012 we sent my son’s favorite train “Stanley” to space in a weather balloon with a HD camera and an old cell phone for GPS. He was recovered 27 miles away in a corn field and we got some great footage of the trip. This video documents the journey from liftoff to landing.

My 4 year old and Stanley are inseparable like Calvin and Hobbes. He’s been attached to him since he was two, and they play, sleep and do everything together. I animated Stanley’s face with After Effects and Photoshop to bring him to life how I imagine my son sees him.

Dead Satellites and Onions

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

If the head of the USAF Space Command has doubts, our friends at ViviSat and MDA ought to be concerned about their satellite-servicing business proposition. Via Popular Mechanics

It sounds like such a good idea: When satellites run out of fuel, send up a robot to top them off instead of launching a new one. NASA and DARPA have active programs researching this concept. But Gen. Shelton, as head of Air Force Space Command, says he doesn’t see the need. By the time a satellite runs out of propellant, the hardware is about 22 years old. After that much time, he argues, the solar arrays have degraded and the computers are relics. “Now we want to go up and refuel it?” he asks. “When you peel back a few layers of this onion, it makes less sense to me.”

The Space Command celebrated their 30th last week in Colorado Springs and their opinions do matter. However, with DARPA and NASA remaining interested, the business still has reason to go forward. Except for Intelsat.

Big Bang Monday: Kepler’s Candidates

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Worlds: The Kepler Planet Candidates from Alex Parker on Vimeo.

All 2,299 Kepler’s candidate planets in one video, via Alex Parker

This animation shows the 2299 high-quality (multiple transits), non-circumbinary transiting planet candidates found by NASA’s Kepler mission so far. These candidates were detected around 1770 unique stars, but are animated in orbit around a single star. They are drawn to scale with accurate radii (in r / r* ), orbital periods, and orbital distances (in d / r*). They range in size from 1/3 to 84 times the radius of Earth. Colors represent an estimate of equilibrium temperature, ranging from 4,586 C at the hottest to -110 C at the coldest – red indicates warmest, and blue / indigo indicates coldest candidates.

Watching in full screen + HD is recommended, so you can see even the smallest planets!

The animation is rendered with a time-step of 30 minutes, equal to the long-cadence time sample of the Kepler observatory. Three white rings illustrate the average orbital distances of Mercury, Venus, and Earth on the same scale.

When the system is animated edge-on, it is clear that there is no time during which the sample of stars the Kepler spacecraft is observing does not contain a planet transiting a star. In fact, on average there are dozens of transits occurring amongst the Kepler sample at any given instant.

The Kepler observatory has detected a multitude of planet candidates orbiting distant stars. The current list contains 2321 planet candidates, though some of these have already been flagged as likely false-positives or contamination from binary stars. This animation does not contain circumbinary planets or planet candidates where only a single transit has been observed, which is why “only” 2299 are shown.

I have illustrated the planet candidates as if they orbit a single star. Using a transit lightcurve, a planet’s distance from a star and its radius are both measured in terms of the host stars’ radius, and those relationships are preserved here. This means that for two planets of equal size, if one orbits a larger star it will be drawn smaller here. Similarly, because the orbital distances scale with the host stars’ sizes, some planets orbit faster than others at a given distance from the star in the animation (when in reality, planets on circular orbits around a given star always orbit at the same speed at a given distance). These faster-moving planets are orbiting denser stars.

A fraction of these candidates will likely be ruled out as false positives as time goes on, while the remainder stand to be confirmed as real planets by follow-up analysis. For example, the large orange object in a very close-in orbit was shown to be a background eclipsing binary blend by

At the beginning of the animation, the grid of rectangles that briefly appears represents the focal plane array of CCD detectors onboard Kepler.

WBMSAT Satellite Industry News Bits 09/14/2012

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

Nicaragua negotiating satellite purchase with China.
[Phys Org – 09/14/2012]

U.S. Department of Justice action casts doubt on acquisition of Loral satellite manufacturing arm by MDA; MDA share prices drop.
[Reuters – 09/14/2012]

IsatData Pro satellite service of SkyWave Mobile Communications is authorized for operation in the territory of the Russian Federation.
[SatNews – 09/14/2012]

Intelsat provides Global VSAT Forum Professional Training to more than 1,000 of its customers and employees.
[Herald Online – 09/14/2012]

Boeing is approved as service provider for the Future COMSATCOM Services Acquisition program.
[Space Daily – 09/14/2012]

United Launch Alliance launches fourth NROL-36 mission for NRO in 2012 and also carries aloft 11 CubeSats.
[SatNews – 09/13/2012]

Indian Space Research Organization to launch Indo-French SARAL satellite December 12, 2012 on PSLV-C20 rocket.
[Satellite Today – 09/13/2012]

Thales Alena Space signs to manufacture and deliver six additional satellites for Globalstar second-generation constellation.
[SatNews – 09/13/2012]

Liberty nears control of Sirius XM Radio.
[Reuters – 09/13/2012]

Encompass Government Solutions to become Inmarsat’s satellite access station in support of the new Global Xpress constellation.
[SatNews – 09/13/2012]

Spacecom is recognized as Best Regional Satellite Operator at World Satellite Business Conference.
[SatNews – 09/13/2012]

Surrey Satellite Technology gets 2012 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space Systems award for Disaster Monitoring Constellation at AIAA Space 2012 conference and exhibition in Pasadena, CA.
[SatNews – 09/13/2012]

International Launch Services analysis reveals root cause of Telkom-3/Express MD-2 mission was component of pressurization system that was not manufactured to specifications.
[SatNews – 09/12/2012]

Eutelsat is distinguished as Global Operator of the Year by industry experts at World Satellite Business Week.
[digital technology – 09/12/2012]

SpaceX is contracted to launch three additional SES satellites.
[SatNews – 09/12/2012]

South Korea announces intent to launch rocket next month carrying an observation satellite, its third attempt following two failures.
[SatNews – 09/12/2012]

Panasonic signs deal with Singapore Airlines to provide advanced in-flight entertainment and communications systems for more than 40 new aircraft.
[Satellite Today – 09/12/2012]

Viasat’s Exede Internet, the fast-growing high-speed consumer satellite broadband service, expands to serve commercial airlines.
[SatNews 09/12/2012]

Laser Light Communications launched at World Satellite Finance Forum.
[PR Newswire – 09/11/2012]

Qatar Satellite Company exhibiting Es’hailSat, first satellite in planned global fleet, to be launched in 2013, at International Broadcast Convention.
[SatNews – 09/11/2012]

Space Systems/Loral and Sea Launch form Independent Oversight Board to oversee investigation into root cause of an anomaly causing solar array damage on a recently launched satellite.
[SatNews – 09/11/2012]

JSAT signs Multi-Launch Services Agreement with Arianespace.
[SatNews – 09/11/2012]

OnAir receives authorization to operate Wi-Fi service in Australian Airspace.
[Satellite Today – 09/11/2012]

Gilat’s Spacenet reaches 10,000 store milestone in equipping the Dollar General locations with Spacenet VSAT.
[SatNews – 09/11/2012]

Satellites and secure wireless evolve to meet new demands of U.S. Defense Department.
[Defense Systems – 09/11/2012]\

India launches 100th space mission.
[ – 09/10/2012]

Spacecom set to launch AMOS-4 in 2013.
[SatNews – 09/10/2012]

Arianespace managing concurrent activities for six different upcoming launch missions.
[SatNews – 09/10/2012]

Hughes unveils advanced auto-deploy mobile satellite solution for police and emergency crews.
[Satellite Today – 09/10/2012]

Thales Alenia Space wins French military satellites design contract.
[Defence Professionals – 09/10/2012]

Astrium hopes near-global X-band coverage to be completed with upcoming launch will draw U.S. government business.
[Space News – 09/10/2012]

Astrium announces that satellite telecommunications services offered by Vizada, Vizada Networks, and Paradigm will marketed under the Astrium brand name beginning in October 2012.
[SatNews – 09/10/2012]

Spacecom contracts Israel Aerospace Industries to manufacture the AMOS-6 satellite, scheduled for launch in 2015.
[SatNews – 09/09/2012]

Inverto delivers latest generation LNB using Entropic Communications leading channel stacking switch technology for European DBS operators and satellite free-to-air market.
[NASDAQ – 09/08/2012]

Global Telesat introduces RedPort WiFi Optimizer for fast, low-cost data connections with any satellite phone.
[Equities – 09/10/2012]

Inmarsat Global Xpress service falters as competing satellite maritime offerings enter the market.
[SatMagazine September issue – Alan Gottlieb article]

Global Direct-to-Home Markets, 5th Edition NSR report now available.
[NSR – September 2012]

WBMSAT satellite communications consulting services

Smackin Jupiter

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Dan Peterson of Racine, Wisconsin, captured this meteor smacking Jupiter.

Big Bang Monday: Arp 116

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Nice video rendering. We know it’s really not that pretty.

Yeah, and no music in space…

Loading player…

This video shows Hubble observations of Arp 116, a pair of galaxies in the constellation of Virgo. It is made up of M60, a large elliptical galaxy, and a smaller, bluer spiral galaxy, NGC 4647. It has long been unclear whether the two galaxies are actually interacting, or whether they simply appear close together from our distant vantage point. However, detailed studies of Hubble pictures suggest that the pair are beginning to experience tidal forces.

Credit: NASA, ESA. Music: R. Vreeland

Via ESA. Makes a pretty picture (more…)

WBMSAT Satellite Industry News Bits 09/07/2012

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Government of Luxembourg asks ITU to deny license for Avanti’s Hylas 2 satellite.
 [Space News – 09/07/2012]

Curiosity’s tire tracks, made during 112 meters of travel in one month, visible in images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
[R&D Magazine – 09/07/2012]

AMOS-4 satellite set for Q2 2013 launch; GlobeCast will use AMOS-5 satellite for complimentary satellite services in Africa for Palaympic Games broadcasts.
[SatNews – 09/07/2012]

SES and Red Bee Media unveil remote recording service for satellite reception devices.
[SatNews – 09/07/2012]

Echostar showcasing comprehensive range of connected device solutions at IBC.
[SatNews – 09/07/2012]

Entropic Communications deploys Set Top Box system-on-a-chip and demodulator technology in three EchoStar models.
[SatNews – 09/07/2012]

Iranian government locates satellite operator willing to lease or sell an in-orbit telecommunications satellite, providing the country a placeholder for it’s expiring orbital slot assignment.
[Space News – 09/06/2012]

Astrium ready to launch European polar orbiting weather satellite Metop-B.
[SatNews – 09/06/2012]

35 year old Voyager 1 soon to be first man-made object to leave the solar system.
[NextGov – 09/06/2012]

Intelsat S.A. announces that Astrium Services Business Communications has expanded its capacity on Intelsat’s Ku-band mobility infrastructure.
[SatNews – 09/06/2012]

Gilat Satellite Networks gets initial order for several thousand SkyEdge II-c Aries self-install customer premise equipment kits from one of Europe’s largest satellite broadband ISP’s in support of SES Broadband Services Ka-band consumer service rollout.
[SatNews – 09/06/2012]

SES Broadband Ka-band consumer service to launch in November 2012.
[SatNews – 09/06/2012]

Singapore Airlines launching In-Flight Connectivity as part of $50 million program to bring Internet and mobile data services to customers, even at 35,000 feet.
[SatNews – 09/06/2012]

ND SatCom wins broadcast uplink technology deal in Germany.
[Satellite Today – 09/06/2012]

IsoTropic Networks upgrades global satellite network to iDirect Evolution platform with iDX 3.1 software to reduce operating costs and grow the business.
[SatNews – 09/06/2012]

New Lasso satellite interface allows easy and affordable access to Globalstar satellite network for remote M2M monitoring applications.
[SatNews – 09/06/2012]

Selex Elsag selects Teledyne Paradise Datacom high power X-band PowerMAX SSPAs to expand NATO ground satellite communications systems in Belgium and Italy, and provide upgrades in Greece and Turkey.
[SatNews – 09/06/2012]

Eutelsat promotes readiness of satellites for ultra HD, triple-play, digital cinema, new-generation newsgathering, and more, at IBC 2012.
[EE Times – 09/05/2012]

KVH TracPhone V11 C/Ku-band terminal adds global C-band coverage to mini-VSAT Broadband network, receiving  full FCC approval, including first-time approval for C-band on vessels under 300 gross tons.
[SatNews – 09/05/2012]

On Call Communications and Gray Television Group collaborate on combination of mobile satellite systems and 3G video encoders to create news gathering package for twenty Gray-owned news channels.
[Herald online – 09/05/2012]

Indonesia’s space agency to launch its two micro satellites LAPAN A-2 and LAPAN ORARI via India’s PSLV rocket later this month.
[SatNews – 09/04/2012]

First Intelsat EpicNG satellite, Intelsat 29e, will be Boeing 702MP.
[Herald online – 09/04/2012]

Russian President Vladimir Putin dismisses general director of Khrunichev Space Center, Vladimir Nesterov.
[SatNews – 09/04/2012]

United Arab Emirates and Kazakhstan hold satellite frequency coordination meeting.
[AME – 09/04/2012]

Joint space agency for Africa considered at meeting in Sudan of continent’s communications and IT ministers.
[ – 09/04/2012]

Squire Tech Solutions serves hundreds of satellite Mobile Responder units in post hurricane response to Mississippi-, Louisiana-, and Arkansas-based teams.
[ – 09/04/2012]

MTN’s yacht customers can now view HD content, with MTN’s VSAT connections using Jetstream HD streaming content solution.
[SatNews – 09/04/2012]

Hungarian company Magyar Telekom signs long-term AMOS capacity lease.
[Satellite Today – 09/04/2012]

Comtech Telecommunications Corp. gets $1.2 million order from defense contractor for solid-state high-power amplifiers for use in transportable satellite communications systems by U.S. military.
[Herald online – 09/04/2012]

inthinc selects ORBCOMM for global M2M communications service.
[4-traders – 09/04/2012]

DARPA program to harvest and reuse satellite components involves high school students.
[Occupational Health & Safety – 09/03/2012]

Thales Alenia Space Espana to present Paper “Security in IP Satellite Networks:  .  .  .” at Sixth International Conference of Advanced Multimedia Satellite and Signal Processing for Space Communications.
[Defence Professionals – 09/03/2012]

HTS Paradigm Shift – Industry views of High Throughput Satellites change dramatically over past five years.
[NSR – 08/28/2012]

NSR 3rd edition, SCADA/M2M Via Satellite report available in October.
[NSR – October 2012]

NSR 5th Edition, Global Direct-to-Home Markets report available in September.
[NSR – September 2012]

WBMSAT satellite communications consulting services

Zero-Gravity Research

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Via The Onion News Network (from November, 2011).