DVE-News/TV teleports to an earth station

The Vernon Valley Earth Station broadcasts everything — live television, weather, telephone, internet, and video

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  • In back (from left): Mr. John Snure, Mr. Kevin Moscatiello; middle: Logan Long, Townes Markwalter; front: Colin Anderson, Johnny Llewellyn, Joe Germaine-Norton, Connor Giblin, Gideon Yost (Photo by Peg Snure)

  • Large antennae (Photo by Peg Snure)

  • During interview, in back (from left): Mr. Kevin Moscatiello, Mr. John Snure; around table: Townes Markwalter, Logan Long, Colin Anderson, Gideon Yost, Joe Germaine-Norton, Johnny Llewellyn, and Connor Giblin (Photo by Peg Snure)

  • During interview, from left: Townes Markwalter, Logan Long, Colin Anderson, Mr. John Snure, Gideon Yost, Joe Germaine-Norton, Johnny Llewellyn, Connor Giblin (Photo by Peg Snure)

By DVE-News/TV reporters

— On a beautiful autumn day, DVE-News/TV reporters headed to USEI, Vernon Valley Earth Station, to interview Mr. John Snure.

Joe asked what an RF engineer is. Mr. Snure explained that RF means radio frequency. He takes care of all the engineering parts of transmitting and receiving equipment and any problems that arise during the day. He deals with radio, telephone or any communications. They have transmitters that transmit to satellites in space. This earth station has been in Vernon Valley since 1975. When Colin asked why they built this earth station in Vernon, Mr. Snure explained that it is quieter than in the city, so it doesn’t get in the way of the communication waves. The customers provide the equipment and USEI transmits the video to the satellites. The satellite dishes point at different locations depending on where the customer is at.

Connor asked Mr. Snure how the teleport affected our lives. Mr. Snure responded that the teleport broadcasts everything from live television, weather, telephone, internet and mostly video. Logan asked about the difference between terrestrial networks and satellites. He said that terrestrial networks are anything on earth, from microwaves, fiber optics and wiring. The satellites in space receive the information from the terrestrial networks and transmit back down. USEI currently has 21 satellites at the Vernon Valley facility. Vernon has 13 employees and their sister station, USEI headquarters has 30 employees.

When Johnny asked about power and the satellites, the bigger dishes do have more power to them than the smaller dishes. He further explained that the satellites they work with are geosynchronous satellites. That means that they travel 22,500 miles away from earth. The satellite spins just as fast as the earth does. Therefore, the dish doesn’t have to be moved. The life of the spacecraft is determined by the amount of rocket fuel. When there is just a little fuel left, the rockets on the side of the satellites are blasted out of orbit. They launch a new one in its place.

Townes asked Mr. Snure how he became interested in becoming an RF engineer. Mr. Snure originally wanted to be a TV cameraman. He received his training in the Army. After that, he ended up working on fixing technical things and started working in the field in 1985. Then he started working at this facility when it was General Electric in 1994 and came back when USEI bought out the facility.

Birds, snakes, and miceGideon had asked if animals ever do damage to the antenna systems, Mr. Snure said that birds and their nests can be an issue. Snakes and mice can be a problem with the wiring under the floors. They’ve had issues with raccoons too. The big satellite dishes do have de-icers on them to help clear snow and ice.

Mr. Snure then explained that in his spare time, he loves fishing and hunting and being outdoors. He then introduced Mr. Kevin Moscatiello, who is the operations manager of the Vernon Valley teleport. Mr. Moscatiello explained that he has been in the business for over 30 years. He worked for General Electric as the Controller of Satellite Operations in Telemetry Tracking and Control. He was then moved up to Space Craft Analyst. When he was asked the cost of a satellite, he said they could cost anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of millions of dollars.

He further explained Mr. Snure’s response regarding the life of the satellite. He said that although the electronics on the satellites are powered by solar arrays, once it has just a little rocket fuel left they have to blast it out of orbit because they do not want it to collide with another satellite. He was asked if a satellite dish is ever moved. He responded that if a satellite mission changes, they do move the antenna. A reporter asked Mr. Moscatiello if satellites track the weather. The communication satellites do take pictures. Then the weather people can predict weather based on those pictures.

Mr. Moscatiello said that there are 12 to 15 launches in the industry per year. However, in the dawn of new technology, they can now launch a constellation of satellites (each the size of a loaf of bread) and can send up 100-200 satellites at a time! Regular satellites can be the size of a large bus, but when they unfold their solar arrays, they can be 100-feet long!

Satellites are launched in Florida, California, French Guinea, Russia, and China. After the interview ended, Mr. Snure took us on a tour of the facilities. The satellite dishes are very large! We liked the generator room. When we got back to the conference room, USEI bought us all pizza. We were all given memorabilia from the earth station; pins, and stickers of satellite launches. We had a great time. Thank you USEI, Mr. Snure and Mr. Moscatiello!

By DVE-News/TV reporters Colin Anderson, Joe Germain-Norton, Connor Giblin, Logan Long, Johnny Llewellyn, Townes Markwalter, and Gideon Yost.

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