This month we are testing a new interactive experiment to supplement the ADXN Satellite Radio & TV pages. This "hidden page" on the Satdirectory website is just for ADXN readers. This page allows you to receive samples of the stations being profiled in the printed and PDF version of the column. This month we have just one clip to test the concept.
Feel free to explore the satdirectory.com site via the menu in the top right-hard corner of this page. If you want to come back to this hidden page re-enter the link from the ADXN magazine (or use the back arrow) as this "hidden page" is not accessible via the usual satdirectory.com menu navigation.
Apstar VI - A new powerhouse commences this month
As we reported last month April 12th saw the successful launch of a new satellite that will be easily received in Australia. APSTAR VI is a high power satellite based on a SB -4100 C 1 model supplied by Alcatel Space with 38 C -band transponders and 12 Ku-band transponders. This satellite has Asia Pacific footprints with its C-band transponders covering China, India, Southeast Asia, Australia, the Pacific Islands and Hawaii, while the only Ku-band beams focus on China.
Apstar VI has now arrived at it's final orbit location of 134 degrees east and has been conducting in-orbit testing late May prior to the handover from Alcatel to Apstar. Tests to date have been mainly confined to short duration carriers, however the real action will be starting from June 15th when analogue and digital television testing is due to commence. By the end of June it is expected that Apstar VI will have started regular operation bringing an additional 27 free-to-air television channels and 45 free-to-air radio stations to Australian backyard dishes.
Optus B1 suffers a major outage
Optus has confirmed that it's aging B1 satellite experienced an outage in late May but that television broadcast services have now been restored. A failure of the primary satellite control processor was the culprit and the satellite is now using the back-up processor. The Optus B1 satellite is a Boeing 601 model; other operators of this model have also suffered the same failure in recent years.
The outage caused a major interruption to the New Zealand pay TV service Sky TV for a number of hours. Optus B1 is also used to distribute ABC & SBS television to terrestrial transmitter sites and there have been reports of brief outages to SBS television in some areas including Newcastle. The outage was serious enough for Singapore Telecommunications (owners of Optus) to advise the Australia Stock Exchange of the problem. Sky TV in New Zealand has also made an announcement to their investors via a press release.
Optus B1 is due for replacement early next year by an Optus D series satellite, which is being built by Orbital Sciences Corp of the US. Everyone has their fingers crossed that the back-up processor behaves itself until Optus B1 is replaced.
Television New Zealand - Kiwi news for Antarctica?
Working or living away from your homeland can make even the most experienced expatriate homesick at times. All around the world you can find 'Kangaroo' or 'Kiwi' bars that serve downunder beer and have rugby or AFL on the big screen. Australian's are well served with hometown news in the Asia Pacific region via the ABC's international television service 'ABC Asia Pacific'. However until recently our Kiwi neighbors have had leaner pickings when searching for television news from home.
A feed of Television New Zealand's One News has become a welcome addition to the free-to-air television offerings to be found on Panamsat 2. The feed is not intended for direct-to-home viewing; in fact the exact reason why the 6PM nightly news from Auckland is being transmitted across the Asia-Pacific is yet to be confirmed. Some free-to-air satellite viewers have conjectured that the daily broadcast is being directed to television stations in the South Pacific, while others are wondering if the signal is intended for the inhabitants of New Zealand's Antarctica outpost, Scott Base. The crew at Scott Base are the ultimate expats, spending their six month tours of duty in the freezing cold, largely cut off from the rest of the world often amid months of darkness.
Scott Base and its satellite link made dramatic headlines in early 2005 when the Intelsat 804 satellite died unexpectedly on January 15th. Intelsat quickly arranged for an alternative link to the Antarctic outpost via their other pacific satellite, Intelsat 701. What looked like an ideal solution was soon foiled when it was discovered Mount Erebus obstructed the low look angle of the Scott Base dish to Intelsat 701, preventing a reliable 24 hour a day signal. The permanent solution has been for to use Panamsat 2 for Scott's communications links, which has led some to speculate that the TV One News feed is for reception at the base.
Scott's dish sits barely above horizontal being located almost at the southern limit of communications for working through satellites in a geostationary orbit above the equator. The dish is 9 meters in diameter and housed inside a 14-metre diameter, geodesic dome that resembles the well-known white domes at Pine Gap in central Australia. The dome allows the dish to withstand the severe weather conditions of Antarctica.
The daily feed of the TV One News appears to be uplinked through the Telstra earthstation at Oxford Falls in Sydney. The signal is most likely transmitted from the Auckland studio to the Telstra television operations centre by the optical fiber link that spans the Tasman Sea.
Perhaps the One News feed has nothing to do with the Antarctic, at the moment this theory is yet to be confirmed. However regardless of the intended delivery point of the broadcasts, expatriate Kiwi's in Australia and the wider Asia-Pacific region are enjoying the nightly news from Auckland via their backyard dishes. The feed is seen daily between 4 and 5PM Australian Eastern Standard (Sydney) Time.
TV One News is available via the Panamsat 2 Adhoc 2 Channel.
Satellite : Panamsat 2
Orbit Location : 169 East
Frequency : 3901
Polarity : Horizontal
Symbol Rate : 30800
ADXN scores its first dish install
George Savige the ARDXC member in Cooranbong NSW has been inspired to add a 2.3 meter C-Band dish to his shack during the past month. I joined George and a dedicated team of local volunteers in installing the dish and tuning the system. George was already enjoyed receiving free-to-air satellite television and radio from a KU-Band dish, however he decided to "remove the trainer wheels" and get serious with a fully motorised dish tracking the Clark Belt. Only a few years ago a 2.3 dish would have been seen as too small for serious satellite reception. However with the shift of the majority of signals from analogue to digital and increases in the power of spacecraft the 2 meter size is seen as ideal for suburban satellite DXers.
With the addition of the new dish George is now enjoying reception from Asiasat 2, Asiasat 3, Palapa C2, Asiasat 4, Telstar 18, JCSat 2A, Optus B3, Optus C1, Optus B1, Panamsat 8, Panamsat 2 and Intelsat 701. With such a variety of satellites George now enjoys around 700 free-to-air television and 250 free-to-air digital radio channels from around 50 different nations!
Tahiti - Experience the lure of the Polynesian islands
Spectacular mountain peaks tower over dense rainforests of soft ferns and bright tropical flowers that reach down to white or black sand beaches. Sounds inviting doesn't it? Welcome to French Polynesia, which is perhaps the ultimate "laid back" virtual travel destination for your satellite dish.
Radio Polynésie broadcasts from studios in Papeete on the Tahiti-Nui (big Tahiti) island with programming in both French and Tahitian. The station is heard throughout French Polynesia via a comprehensive network of close to 50 FM transmitters. For Eastern Australia and New Zealand, Radio Polynésie is an easy catch from Intelsat 701. The station's programming offers a unique mixture of Polynesian, Tahitian and a small amount of English popular music that instantly transports the listener into the tropical environment. During the Tahitian night the station relays France-Inter radio from Paris. Tahiti is twenty hours behind Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) with the local Papeete breakfast programming commencing around 1AM Sydney time.
French Polynesia's national television channel is also an easy catch in Australia and New Zealand. The daily broadcast starts around 12:45 AM Sydney time with Polynesian music clips, the local news in Tahitian, and then the local news in French. The evening news in Tahitian can be seen at 2:45 PM Sydney time, it is followed by a sports roundup and then the local news in French at 3:15 PM Sydney time. Télé Polynésie programming is a varied mix of local material and French domestic network television with Polynesian musical programs being popular viewing in Tahitian evening.
Satellite : Intelsat 701
Orbit Location : 180 East
Frequency : 11174
Polarity : Horizontal
Symbol Rate : 23149
The grounding of NASA's Space Shuttle fleet following the Columbia accident in 2003 is about to be lifted. NASA will return Space Shuttles to flight with the coming mission on the Shuttle Discovery in mid July.
Free-to-air satellite television offers a detailed insight into spaceflight activities including shuttle missions via NASA Television. Around six hours before the launch the continuous mission coverage commences which extends right through until the mission ends some hours after the Shuttle landing and next month we will be guiding you to all the Shuttle action. Till then happy viewing!