[amsat-bb] Re: Questions for the 2007 BoD Candidates

Stefan Wagener stefan_wagener at hotmail.com
Mon Jul 30 16:30:55 PDT 2007

Thanks Lee!

Very interesting and thoughtful post. I appreciate the information very

Good luck.

73, Stefan VE4NSA

-----Original Message-----
From: amsat-bb-bounces at amsat.org [mailto:amsat-bb-bounces at amsat.org] On
Behalf Of Lee McLamb
Sent: July-29-07 7:56 PM
To: amsat-bb at amsat.org
Subject: [amsat-bb] Re: Questions for the 2007 BoD Candidates


Thank you for the thoughtful questions.

> Questions:
> * How are you planning to advance AMSAT as a professional organization 
> in terms of management, membership service and transparency?
One of the challenges we face is that we need to involve more people in
AMSAT's efforts.  Too often when a job is identified we turn time and again
to a single small handfull of people.  Those people, while hard working and
dedicated, may not have the best set of skills for that particular job.  We
need to be better at asking for help.  Many members have significant
experience and skills outside the technical field.  We need to let people
who may have writing, marketing and other skills know that they are needed.
For example, the VP of Marketing and User Services position has been empty
since October of last year.  This is a non-technical position for which we
should be requesting interested people step forward. 

Regarding transparency, I am a big supporter of the 'open source' model that
the Eagle team is implementing with frequent Journal reports and Eaglepedia.

I think the AMSAT News Service (ANS) is greatly underutilized as a channel
for keeping everyone up-to-date on the latest activities within AMSAT.  
Improving timely communication has always been a key point for me.  That is
one reason I continue to work as an ANS editor each month.

> * How often have you been using the existing satellites (e.g. AO-51) 
> in the last year.
Truthfully not nearly as often as I would like.  I do most of my operating
at demonstrations and special event stations.  The result is I keep
disassembling my satellite station to take it to Boy Scout camps, Jamboree
On The Air, Field Day and other events that our local club hosts.  I also
tend to listen much more than I talk so while you may not hear me on the
satellites I typically try to at least listen to a few passes each week.

> * What do you consider as the greatest asset AMSAT has?
AMSAT has a great reputation among those in the industry who know about us.

Unfortunately that isn't as widespread as it should be.  I'll address that
more below.  AMSAT's other great strength is the vast base of technical
expertise available for our projects.  We have some world-class expertise
working on our projects with an amazing amount of dedication.

> * What do you consider is AMSAT's greatest weakness and how will you 
> address it?
AMSAT's greatest weakness in my view is communication, both within the
organization and the larger amateur community as well as with industry and
government agencies.  If we are not being effective in letting people know
what we are doing and sharing our progress, then how can we expect to have
their support?  The Journal is certainly a viable way to communicate with
the membership and Jim Sanford has been doing an excellent job with his
continuing series of updates on Eagle.  We need to have someone associated
with each project who can act as a field reporter so that everything gets
on-going coverage.  These reporters would also help by providing information
to the writers of the satellite columns in other magazines like QST and
others to ensure they have the latest and correct information.  As for those
outside the amateur community, for the last four years I've been travelling
to conferences such as the NASA Small Payload Rideshare and AIAA Smallsat as
well as Cubesat workshops to represent AMSAT.  As a result we've turned
around several negative perspectives of AMSAT and greatly improved the
awareness of amateur radio's history and on-going role in space.  We are
also gaining insight into how and when launch opportunities might arise or
even perhaps be created. 

> * What are you planning to do to ensure a healthy, stable future for
Membership growth is key to the survival of AMSAT and our ability to carry
out satellite projects in the future.  From my review of membership
statistics it seems clear that long-access, high orbit satellites is what
results in membership growth.  That is why I'm fully committed to AMSAT's
vision of having multiple high-orbit satellites in orbit.  Our previous
approach of getting a single satellite up then waiting until it was showing
signs of age or failed to start on the next next one results in unacceptably
long periods with no high-orbit access.  The reality is these projects take
a significant investment of time and money to make happen.  We must be
actively working on Eagle even as we support the completion of P3E.

 As a result of my attending the last RIdeshare conference we now know of
two different satellite programs that will each be launching multiple
satellites to GTO in the next several years.  Each of these launches has an
excess capacity of over 1000 lbs.  Having identified these programs I'm now
working on how to get AMSAT considered as a potential secondary satellite on
those launches.  There are also other launch possibilities coming along that
could result in similar or better coverage and access times but would not be
GTO launches.  

Educational outreach is also vitally important to AMSAT's future.  Many
schools are now involved in developing satellites which intend to utilize
amateur spectrum for their command and telemetry links.  By engaging with
them early we can help them see themselves as part of a larger community.
My work mentoring several of the University Nanosat teams has shown a great
willingness to include a communications mission for their satellite as long
as we get with them early in the design phase of their project.  The Nanosat
program has the potential to launch a satellite to LEO every two years and
possible every year.  Don't let the term "nanosat" put you off.  These are
cylindrical satellites 45cm in diameter and 45 cm in height which makes them
considerably larger than what AMSAT has traditionally called a microsat.

One of the things I think I would bring to the Board is an ability to think
outside the box and willingness to try something new.  We must start
reaching out and engaging others in our vision if we are to succeed and
thrive in the future.

Lee McLamb - KU4OS
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