Cold War rivals team up for explosive launch

Published: Wednesday, August 9, 2000, 18:23 [IST]

Sydney: The success of an explosive event almost dead-centre in the Pacific Ocean will ensure hundreds of millions of television viewers across the Americas and Western Europe can watch the Sydney Olympics with surety and clarity.

The event involved the launching of a satellite from a massive, converted North Sea oil rig, which took 11 days to propel itself 4828 km across the Pacific Ocean from Long Beach, California, to a precise location on the equator at 154 degrees west longitude.

The launch of the PAS9 satellite is the fourth by the Sea Launch company, which brings together the powerful rocket and space technologies of the US, Russia and Ukraine, plus Norwegian sea skills, in a commercial enterprise.

The satellite will carry the Sydney Olympics to viewers in North and South America, the Caribbean and western Europe.

By launching commercial satellites from the equator, the rockets provides customers with the most direct and cost-effective route to orbit, allowing a heavier payload, or a higher orbit to increase satellite lifespan.

Shifting sands go against Bondi's grain

The world-famous sands of Bondi beach have become an international incident. Faxes are flying around the planet in defence of Bondi, amid claims its grains of sand are too big and contain shells dangerous to Olympic volleyball players' feet.

It has even led to the sacrilegious rumour that finer sand would be brought in from the Whitsundays. Now SOCOG and volleyball's world body have gagged the Canadian expert who started the furore.

The international volleyball federation (FIVB) sent a blistering letter this week to Ontario sand guru Bob Hutcheson, ordering him to stop dumping on Bondi's grains.

Hutcheson has been reported, in both the Canadian and Australian press, as being critical of Bondi sand's suitability for beach volleyball. The shell fragments on Bondi Beach, it is said, are a potential hazard. Bondi has the lowest amount of shell material of all the Sydney beaches.

Australian and international authorities have rushed to the defence of the sacred strip following claims that its sand was too coarse and contained too much shell grit.

They say Bondi's sand is fine - well, fine enough not to damage the delicate feet of the Olympic volleyballers. Even so, organisers have decided to take no risks and are sifting sand on the volleyball courts. There will also be equipment to clean the courts, once in use.

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