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Telstar 4 is Down 368

Posted by michael
from the entropy-increases dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Sometime this morning (Sept. 19) Telstar 4 had a major onboard failure. I just checked a few minutes ago and there are CW carriers up on 11700 MHz V & 12200 MHz H, so the spacecraft would appear to still be in its orbital slot - just no traffic. The Loral Skynet site has no mention of this yet, but supposedly Telstar 8 was already scheduled to replace T4, so they may just speed the process up. This turn of events will no doubt be of some small concern to Intelsat, who recently agreed to purchase most of Loral's US domestic fleet, including T4."
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Telstar 4 is Down

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  • by linuxbaby (124641) * on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:07PM (#7008396)
    My girlfriend always told me that when I talk tech with fellow tech-heads I make no sense at all.

    "It's hard for me to believe it's even English you're speaking. I don't recognize any of the words."

    Reading this Slashdot post just made me understand what she means.

    It's like a bad sci-fi screenplay!

    (Telstar? CW carriers? 11700 MHz V & 12200 MHz H? orbital slot? Intelsat? Loral's US domestic fleet?)
    • by Merk (25521) on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:14PM (#7008468) Homepage

      I think it's a satellite.

      Either that or an old TV show.

      Or maybe the aliens are invading.

      Now I wonder if this story was accepted because a) it sounded real tech-like, b) the person who accepted knows what the submitter is talking about, c) the random number generator was less than 0.01, d) Cowboy Neal.

      But one thing's for sure, as it stands, the story has yet to answer the all-important questions: "How does this affect me, and why should I care?"

    • by Anonymous Coward
      My girlfriend always told me that when I talk tech with fellow tech-heads I make no sense at all.


      Given the past tense, I am assuming she left you for the article submitter who is apparently even more of a pathetic slobbering geek than you were? Truly the submitter is the alpha male of slobbering geeks!
    • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:43PM (#7008716)
      It's like a bad sci-fi screenplay!

      It was a typical Friday at Telstar control: slow. McMurray was at the main console. He was idly thinking about which sandwiches he was going to pick up at Subway on the way home for the family.

      Suddenly, an alarm light flashed. McMurray looked at the status screen, and it took a moment to sink in. Telstar 4 had just gone down. "Strange", he thought. "I've never seen a bird go offline just like that."

      He punched a few commands to try to contact the satellite, but got no response. He muttered under his breath "It's going to be a long night."

      Ok, first things first. He e-mailed his wife to tell her he'd wouldn't be getting dinner after all. He fired off an anonymous story submission about the situation to Slashdot.

      At this point, it still looked like a simple electronic failure. There was no hint of impending disaster; no indication of what might happen to the planet in a few short hours. Nobody on earth noticed the tiny deep violet pinpoint that was just now becoming detectable over the northern rim of the full moon. A few bored geeks on Slashdot posted some lame jokes about the Telstar 4 story.

      McMurray was just about to reroute the command channel to the eastern uplink station when the entire control center suddenly went black. He sat in stunned silence for a few seconds, then the shockwave hit...

      [ To read the rest of this bad screenplay, you must have a premium membership. Log on now to continue. ]

    • by wfberg (24378) on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:59PM (#7008808)
      "It's hard for me to believe it's even English you're speaking. I don't recognize any of the words."

      Reading this Slashdot post just made me understand what she means.


      Telstart 4 heeft vanmorgen (19 september) een interne storing gehad. Ik heb het een paar minuten geleden gecontroleerd, en er zijn nog draaggolven op 11.7Ghz verticaal en 12.1 Ghz horizontaal, dus de satelliet hangt nog in zijn baan om de aarde, alleen er is geen signaal te bekennen. Op de webpagina's van Loral Skynet staat nog geen aankondiging, maar Telstar 4 stond toch al op de nominatie om vervangen te worden door Telstar 8, dus misschien versnellen ze die uitrol. Intelsat zal zich dit nieuws zeker aantrekken, aangezien ze laatst overeengekomen met Loral om het grootste deel van hun satellieten die boven de VS hangen over te nemen, waaronder deze.

      Is that better?
  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:08PM (#7008399) Homepage
    What is Telstar 4? A satellite, certainly. How is it relevant to my life? The article submitter (and approver) could be a little more verbose.

    Assuming everyone knows everything you do is a sure sign of the foolish man.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:13PM (#7008459)
      Hell, I'm from Gillette, Wyoming and have heard of Telstar satellites.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Toddimer (681068)
      The Full News Story [cnn.com] may answer your questions.
    • by updog (608318)
      This is a very serious issue, and potentially extremely disastrous - it means people may have to put their geocaching games on hold!!
    • Short Article (Score:5, Informative)

      by fishybell (516991) <fishybell@@@hotmail...com> on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:43PM (#7008720) Homepage Journal
      I found a short article [businesswire.com] that outlines some basic details of what they (Loral) know now and what they're doing to alleviate any problems to the end-user (you).
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by LostCluster (625375) on Friday September 19, 2003 @07:08PM (#7008860)
      If you're in the telecom industry, it's a newsworthy event because the overall satellite bandwith that reaches the CONUS (Contentential USA) area took a downward hit this morning. Clearly, all of the signals that moved accross T4 are gonna need to relocate elsewhere.

      However, most of the major users of such a big satellite like national TV/Radio concerns know that it's only a matter of time before something like this happens to a satellite, so they've got automatic switchovers at their affiliates that keep them flowing even if a network show is on at the time. The problem comes to anybody who has "preemptable" satellite space for today, because they may just find themselves hit somebody who's willing to pay the premium fee to bump them. Other users in a pinch might just send something that normally goes over a satellite through landlines today, etc.

      It's a major sudden redirection of large ammounts of traffic in the national communication infrastructure, although not exactly earth shaking because most people won't see much of a disruption. (Galaxy IV was a bit more newsworthy fo a failure a few years ago because it took out most of SkyTel's pagers...)

      So, it's interesting to some people and other people don't care. Isn't that what /. is all about?
  • by ksuMacGyver (562019) on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:08PM (#7008408) Homepage
    Loral Skynet site has no mention of this yet, but supposedly Telstar 8 was already scheduled to replace T4 Already at the T4? Did I miss the T2?
  • by chrysalis (50680) on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:09PM (#7008412) Homepage
    Guys, please stop playing with your Wifi devices.
    See the results...

    • Hmm maybe someone used their old Primestar Dish [slashdot.org], and wanted to see what they would recieve within that 10 mile line-of-site limit? :)

      Talk about a DDoS!

      j/k
    • I guess hooking up my tomato sauce can and laser pointer to my Mr. Fusion was a Bad Idea, huh?

      Ok, I'll try to tone it down a bit. Will someone let me know when the new bird flies so I can try out the modifications?

      KFG
  • by mercuryresearch (680293) on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:09PM (#7008415) Journal
    This is a crisis of earth-shattering proportions for many.

    One of Telstar 4's nicknames in the industry is "nookiesat" -- as it carries several of the leading porn channels in the US. :-)
  • by Hayzeus (596826) on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:10PM (#7008420) Homepage
    When was 7 I'd dance to it all around the house in my footie pajamas. This behaviour only stopped recently.
    • NOT offtopic!!! (Score:5, Informative)

      by ashitaka (27544) on Friday September 19, 2003 @07:01PM (#7008820) Homepage
      Well, maybe a bit.

      The 'Telstar' the parent refers to is the 1962 pop instrumental piece written by by Joe Meek and performed by the Tornadoes who became the first U.K. band to have a #1 hit in the States, even before the Beatles. 'Telstar' was inspired by the launch of Telstar 1.

      Of course, this is way, way before 99.9% of the Slashdot readership were born so I'm not suprised it was missed. Hell, even I was only 1 year old.
  • by rushfan (209449) * on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:11PM (#7008438) Homepage Journal
    Does the internet still work?

    Can we still download the latest Windows security patches?

    Do we still get stupid invoices from sco.com?

    -- Rushdan
    • You forgot: "Can I still download pron?"
    • If the end user notices something's missing today, that company's likely not coming back. See, satellites are like computer hard drives... they're gonna break eventually, the only question is when.

      So, anybody who's actually making money with their satellite usage has made backup contracts that say when T4 goes down, they immedately get moved to another spot to become their full-time home. For example, I've seen elsewhere that several pron channels that were on Telestar 4 got moved to Telestar 6. The proble
  • by CommandNotFound (571326) on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:11PM (#7008439)

    Astronomers from Tacoma to Vladivostok have just reported an ionic disturbance in the vicinity of the Van Allen Belt. Scientists are recommending that necessary precautions be taken.
  • by stonebeat.org (562495) on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:12PM (#7008453) Homepage
    breaking something, usually speeds up upgrade process.
    In IT people that a lot (especially with the servers)
    And with the recent increase in MS security patches this has become more evident. People are scrambling to upgrade/switch to better OS (like OS X, Linux etc)
  • by jonman_d (465049) <nemilar@@@optonline...net> on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:13PM (#7008457) Homepage Journal
    For all of you who keep asking, "What is telstar?" - here's the results of a Google:

    http://roland.lerc.nasa.gov/~dglover/sat/telstar.h tml [nasa.gov]
  • by cleveland61 (321761) on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:16PM (#7008482)
    Telstar 4 is one of the most heavily used TV satellites. We had to move our channels over to Telstar 6 for the time being. (I work for the Erotic Networks) It caries many of the east coast ABC and CBS feeds. I'm sure they were scrambling to find alternate carriers just like we were this morning.
  • by PDG (100516)
    "A communications disruption could mean only one thing . . . invasion."

    or

    "It's like in chess: First, you strategically position your pieces and when the timing is right you strike. They're using this signal to syncronize their efforts and in 5 hours the countdown will be over"
    • "It's like in chess: First, you strategically position your pieces and when the timing is right you strike. They're using this signal to syncronize their efforts and in 5 hours the countdown will be over"

      Remember, Kif: in the game of chess, you must never let your adversary see your pieces!
  • by sfled (231432) <sfled@yahooIII.com minus threevowels> on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:18PM (#7008500) Journal

    "They're using our own satellites against us!"
    - Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:18PM (#7008501)
    Among other things , T4 carried traffic for Muzak (in-store music and ads) and at least one of their competitors (for whom I work). The company's been scrambling all day to get the traffic rerouted through another satellite, but each and every customer will have to physically realign their dish.

    Enjoy the silence while it lasts ...

  • by PoitNarf (160194) on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:18PM (#7008505)
    Rejoice! That was the satellite that Major League Baseball was using to spy on us.
  • by greysky (136732) on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:19PM (#7008510)
    ...The opening sequence to Terminator 4: Rise of the Voting Machines?

  • reboot it (Score:3, Funny)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:19PM (#7008514) Homepage Journal
    why can't they just have some entry-level admin reboot it?

    cycle the power, voila, no big deal.

    oh, wait...
    • by mkldev (219128) on Friday September 19, 2003 @07:51PM (#7009127) Homepage
      PHB: First we get a big slingshot. Then we give Asok a small tank of air.
      Dilbert: Won't he pop like a baloon a few seconds after he gets up there?
      PHB: Will he have time to power-cycle the thingamahoey?
      Dilbert: Well, I suppose so, but...
      PHB: Will it be operational then?
      Dilbert: I think so, but..
      PHB: And this will save us how much money?
      Dilbert: 25 million a day... look! That's not the point!
      Wally: I think it's a brilliant plan, sir. Truly the finest.
      Dilbert & Alice: WALLY!?!
      Wally: What? I'm just saying....

      Three days later

      PHB: Okay, we're ready, Asok.
      Asok: Are you sure this is such a good idea?
      PHB: Perfectly safe. Perfectly safe.

      Chunk....whoosh... splut...
      (We see Asok's feet sticking out of the side of a building.)

      PHB: For us, anyway.

  • I've heard porn was on there, and PBS broadcasts (today's schedule [pbs.org]) using Telstars, but is that really vital? I mean, none of the internet is down, and telephone services still work. I understand that PBS is educational, but the vital services in a disaster would be news (only affected if Telstar 4 carried news), telephone, food (I don't think Telstars carry commercial transactions), water (ditto), and shelter (THAT doesn't need a Telstar).
  • A fleet? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by secolactico (519805)
    Ok, so I'm nitpicking here... but isn't a group a satellites called a constelation?

  • by CrackDady (140041)
    This is pulled from one of the links. Distance learning... who needs it anyway!

    Telstar 4
    77 W (in 2003)

    Began service: 11/95

    Transponders: 24 C-band @ 36 MHz
    16 Ku-band @ 54MHz

    Coverage: Continental US, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, and into Canada.

    Markets: Robust broadcast and syndication neighborhood anchored by ABC and CBS; host to SNG, data and distance learning applications.
  • Telstar 4 info (Score:5, Informative)

    by gstevens (209321) on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:22PM (#7008537)
    Here's a page with information on the television signals carried by Telstar 4:
    http://www.lyngsat.com/t4.shtml [lyngsat.com]
  • A list of channels serviced by Telstar 4 can be found here [lyngsat.com].
  • It's those pesky Klingons again!
  • by Un pobre guey (593801) on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:24PM (#7008557) Homepage
    Sorry guys! I accidentally uploaded the wrong firmware version from CVS. We'll send somebody up there to reboot the system soon.

    Please stand by.

  • by Chran (142121) on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:24PM (#7008560) Homepage Journal
    Quick, call Jeff Goldblum!

    He might be able to find the hidden carrier signal the alien fleet uses to coordinate the attack.
  • by jemenake (595948) on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:24PM (#7008562)
    Sometime this morning (Sept. 19) Telstar 4 had a major onboard failure. I just checked a few minutes ago and there are CW carriers up on 11700 MHz V & 12200 MHz H...
    So... you sit at home all day and check the status of satellites?
    The Loral Skynet site has no mention of this yet...
    But I'll bet you've already phoned them up and informed them, huh? I can picture the sense of glee racing through your mind as you punched in the phone number... anticipating the moment you've been waiting for all these long years... the moment when you get to notify one of the "big boys" that their satellite isn't working before they find out themselves.

    Well... now that that's over with, nothing left to do but go get a life, I suppose.
    • Some of us get paid to worry about this.

      If MAE-WEST blew up one day, you'd expect a /. post about it. Cut the guy some slack.
  • Good old Loral (Score:3, Interesting)

    by segment (695309) <sil @ p o l i t rix.org> on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:29PM (#7008600) Homepage Journal

    Maybe they went out of business... they've been know for criminal activities...
    From the New York Times, May 19, 1998

    [FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES, MAY 19, 1998]

    Satellite Maker Gave Report to China Before Telling U.S.

    (By Jeff Gerth)

    Washington: A leading American satellite maker acknowledged for the first time Monday that a committee headed by one of its top executives provided a report in 1996 to the Chinese on a failed Chinese rocket, without first consulting federal officials, and contrary to the company's own internal policies.

    But the company, Space Systems/Loral, a subsidiary of Loral Space and Communications, based in Manhattan, said it `does not believe any of its employees dealing with China acted illegally or damaged U.S. national security.' The company issued a two-page statement, which it called a `fact sheet.'

    In the statement, Loral said it was cooperating with the Justice Department, which is investigating whether sensitive technological information was passed to the Chinese during industry reviews of an accidental explosion of a Chinese rocket seconds after liftoff in February 1996.

    FAS [fas.org]

    CHICAGO, June 30 (Reuters) - Loral Space & Communications Ltd., which makes and operates satellites, on Monday said it will pay rival Alcatel $13 million in a settlement that resolves all outstanding issues between them, including a contract dispute.

    WebProWire [webprowire.com]

  • by 13Echo (209846) on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:29PM (#7008603) Homepage Journal
    Here... [cnn.com]
    Here... [businesswire.com]
    And here... [billingsgazette.com]
  • by Argyle (25623) * on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:30PM (#7008610) Homepage Journal
    Telstar 4 is/was a satellite in geosynchronous orbit over the US. The satellite is used for television transmission. Signals are sent up from television facilities, bounced off the bird (nick for a satellite), and then the signal is recieved by cable companies and TV stations for relay to your house.

    The main power bus on Telstar 4 died. This means it does not have the power to rebroadcast (bounce) the signals back to earth.

    Kinda like the Enterprise losing the warp drive, but still having impulse power to putter around.

    These birds cost US$200-300 million to build and US$100-150 million to launch. Failure of this type is a huge loss for Intelsat and a costly transition for the broadcasters.

    The companies that used that bird need to switch to other ones. This causes two problems.

    1) Antennas - The recievers all need to repoint their antennas at new birds. This is a pain in the ass to do precisely.

    2) Bumps - Due to agreements, some companies on Telstar 4 have the right to 'bump' others off the backup birds and take their places. If you get bumped, you are fuxxored.

    Make some sense now?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You like feeling like the alpha geek, referring to them as "birds", don't you? King of the hill, baby, you're king of the hill.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Kinda like the Enterprise losing the warp drive, but still having impulse power to putter around.

      So, we can expect it to be fixed before the hour is up?

      But wait... normally you can only restore warp at the dramatically necessary moment, which is right after a commercial break as the aliens attack. But if Telstar 4 carries the commercials, then we can't have a commercial break! Now what do we do?

  • Skynet site hacked? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by phil reed (626)
    Take a look at their "Industry Terms" page = http://www.loralskynet.com/tech_resources/glos_us. asp.html

    What's up with the first entry? Also, there's an entry for "hacker".
  • by Derivin (635919) on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:32PM (#7008628)
    Gah, I read this one 5 times and still didnt understand. After reading all the links and doing some googling here it is again in a lower form of techno-geek (or would it be higher? not sure).

    T4 is a broadcast Satalite used to transmit the raw station feeds from the central offices (read networks) to local broadcasters (cable, local ABC affiliate etc).

    What Data T4 is responcible for:
    Robust broadcast and syndication neighborhood anchored by ABC and CBS; host to SNG, data and distance learning applications. (Also hosted is Spice Channel and two other adult viewing stations which are not mentioned on the main site)

    Where it effects:
    The central portion of North America

    The origional poster mentions the Carrier frequencies that the data is normally transfered on. The poster also mentions that there is no data being broadcast, just the main freq.

    I have no way of confirming this myself, and dont see anything about it on any of the satalite pages. All they report is that a satalite is up and running (i.e. the Carrier frequency is present, but nothing on the data being transmitted)

    As for the information on replacing the old T4 with T8, well T8 is currently handling south america, and the information I could find on google about the sale of the out dated satalites it vague at best.

    Who does this effect:
    Possably people out in the midwest are not getting any TV on their cable boxes.
    mostlikly its effecting the cable companies and local affiliates who need to reroute to another satalite, and the central offices which also need to switch the feeds to other sat feed providers.

    In the end nothing is confirmed.
  • by netmask (8001) on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:35PM (#7008648)
    I called Skynet, and this was their quote:

    "Telstar 4 experienced a short circuit of primary its power bus and is not fixable. This satellite is offline permanently."
  • by entartete (659190) on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:36PM (#7008661)
    I used to work for an npr station doing operations stuff, mostly catching shows off network and recording them for rebroadcast and I remember the time that their satellite had problems. actually i don't remember it, that whole time period was this haze of me not sleeping and freaking out about how we were going to get our programing and people calling in to scream at us so it was all sort of a blur. npr switched over to useing some sattelite that canadian broadcasting had space on, since we had helped them out in the past when things went wrong with their network they didn't charge us an arm and a leg. the tv networks that had to switch over had to cough up the real money though.
  • The real tragedy (Score:2, Informative)

    by ripetersen (526485)
    is that Muzak uses it to broadcast. The elevators have gone quite...
  • Dear submitter, (Score:2, Informative)

    by JTek (5392)
    A link to an article [reuters.com] might have been nice.
  • Damn! (Score:4, Funny)

    by telstar (236404) on Friday September 19, 2003 @06:50PM (#7008755)
    That's the same thing my girlfriend says...
  • by amyhughes (569088) on Friday September 19, 2003 @07:45PM (#7009094) Homepage
    This hasn't improved the programming any. Better luck next time? Amy
  • Oh great... (Score:4, Funny)

    by rune2 (547599) on Friday September 19, 2003 @11:04PM (#7010023) Homepage
    I think that's the first time we've Slashdotted a satellite.

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