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Swatch, the Beatnik and radio amateurs...
This story made more noise out there in the english speaking cyber-world, so we will try a transaltion of our french story to australian. But our australian is not as good as our english, so maybe you'll find some mistakes. Please, forgive us and/or help us improve it...

We have a serie of photographs of our trip to Darmstadt
Visit the space center...
Kitetoa waked-up early on Thursday  April 22,  to go to Darmstadt, nearby Frankfurt, at the  European Space Operations Center (ESOC in Australian),  to listen " live " at the MIR astronauts   and the person in charge of center space in  Moscow who told us the story of the Beatnik mission .

Swatch was to show the Beatnik a samll satellite, that looks like the famous Sputnik. The name is a mixture of Beat and Sputnik. The Beat is a new measurement of time invented by the watch manufacturer. It is to set a time which is the same everywhere in the world at the same moment. In short, one day is divided in 1000 beats and a beat = 1 minute and 26 seconds.

The operation set up  by Swatch consisted in collecting short messages via its Web server in which were to appear the word "beat" (which can also be used as "heart beat", or "music beat" -for example- in New-Zelander). These messages were recorded in Beatnik then were to be spread in space from the satellite via public waves used by the radio amateurs and on Swatch's Web server.

However the operation, which was a marketing operation, like  Internet time (those beats)  turned to almost nothing.

The "so" convenient battery

Indeed, the radio amateurs shouted   extremely loud and flooded the Swatch server with messages of protest. According to them, the public wave frequency that Swatch wanted to use was not to be used to diffuse this kind of message which, to some extent were advertising stuff. Obstruction of a frequency plus publicity... That seemed to be to much for them.

The pressure and the threat of a boycott was very strong on Swatch.

Launched  on April 16 by the three astronauts of MIR, among them, a french one, Jean-Pierre Haignere, the satellite did not transmit the messages  on Thursday, Swatch thus answering the radio amateurs wishes. In fact, according to a official statement given  to the journalists in the room, and a bit longer that the information published on their web server on  Sunday April, 18 "the Russian satellite  Gelios, a key link  with the MIR space station   was severely damaged a few days ago. This has created a situation of uncertainty and made communications to MIR  problematic.  Swatch has decide to donate the batteries supporting the  Beatnik satellite to the MIR cosmonauts who will be using them  to run the printer which is the lifeline to earth through which the causomauts receive their daily instructions and key operations points".

Wow...  It is only a question of batteries and the honor of Swatch is safe while the threat of boycott moves away.

According to a member of Swatch whose technical skills on satellites are -let's say- rather weak, Beatnik has two sources of energy. One is affected to ballistic measurements which continue correctly since the launching, the other, to the transmission of the messages. It is the last one which was given to the cosmonauts.

In the end, one may never know the true story. But Swatch has seen the risks of the network. Nice when an  marketing operation goes on well like for the beats (we like it) and not nice when  human gather (thanks to the network) to fight a company...


Oh, yes, we have also a serie of photographs of the trip to Darmstadt
Clic to see the space center...


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