[amsat-bb] Re: Was HEO naivete

Bill Ress bill at hsmicrowave.com
Sun Feb 8 13:01:58 PST 2009

Rocky, Ed, et al,

I've been monitoring the thread and find that the responses, included 
yours, are stating very realistic and practical assessments of AMSAT-NA 
possibilities for future satellite projects and launches.

As a Board member/alternate and one who is heading up the AMSAT-NA 
Engineering Task Force, I can tell you that:

1) AMSAT-NA has many folks actively working to uncover ANY and ALL 
launch opportunities. HEO, even with the current pessimistic outlook due 
to the extremely high launch cost (8 million $ plus) is still being 
actively pursued on the funding front and the technical concepts front. 
If anyone has contacts with possible funding agencies or funding 
suggestions, by all means, contact our President, Barry Baines 
(wd4asw at amsat.org).

2) At the October 2008 Board meeting, the Board, recognizing a very 
challenging HEO situation, changed its Mission Vision to include not 
just HEO but LEO and MEO launch opportunities to insure that we didn't 
focus all our efforts into one effort (HEO) that is looking rather bleak 
- and end up not building and launching anything. We need to recognize 
that satellites do fail and need replacements in the ready. Just look at 
the unfortunate failure of the linear transponder capability that was 
provided by Delfi-C3 (my best wishes to the team in trying to resolve 
the problem).

3) To accomplish 2) above, an Engineering Task Force was put in place to 
not only continue developing technical concepts for an HEO opportunity, 
but to expand our technical outlook to support a "modular hardware 
concept" development program of the key satellite pieces applicable to 
and modifiable for ANY launch opportunity. You will soon be reading in 
the Journal about how the SDX, IHU, Receiver and Transmitter being 
developed for the SuitSat2 program will provide the first "modular" 
AMSAT-NA hardware that can fly in a CubeSat or an HEO.

As one who was involved in the frustrations of the Eagle program, I can 
tell you now that I'm experiencing a much more positive attitude about 
what AMSAT-NA is doing now and how we are planning for its future. I'm 
very confident that we will soon resolve the ITAR issues that have 
troubled many of our key satellite builders in their attempts to not 
only help our international commitments to P3E, but work on "domestic" 
satellite programs as well (read more about all this in the upcoming 

In closing, this might possibly be a good time to cast a wide net for 
those interested in offering to support the efforts of AMSAT-NA. Fell 
free to contact me (n6ghz at amsat.org) with your technical interests and 
Gould Smith at wa4sxm at amsat.org to support the many other areas where 
volunteers are need.

Thanks for you time...Bill - N6GHz

Rocky Jones wrote:
>> 73, Drew KO4MA 
> Drew and the group
> Thanks again for your well thought out reply.  I would just respond with a few things that had "I" been in the board meeting I would have said.
> 1. I dont think that appealing to "the young people" or the "computer generation" is a viable means to increase our ranks.  First off the "kids" (under 25 for me) of today almost have unlimited data transfer capability with cell type equipment...and that is going to do nothing but grow even during an economic turndown.  My twin girls on their "youngster cruise" were continually sending back "video's" of their experience, even on the boat.  And that was a few years ago.  
> My impression is that the market is the same as it has always been...kids who get interested in "radio" (not computers) and parents who have the time and money to spare in such an activity.  I think that there is some validity in the "how difficult is it to get on the satellite" metric...but I think one reason that the LEO FM birds are what they are an Oscar 7is what it is in terms of people is that the equipment for the LEO FM birds is acquirable for under 200 dollars AND has uses other places...
> 2.  In other words Ithink that the issue with the sats is primarily the cost of acquisition of equipment AND what its use is when the sats are not "up" (or working).  No science or polls behind that...just my viewpoint.
> 3) Where I think that hamsats went off the wrong end was AO-40....it was to many eggs in one basket, to much money was spent on the "supersat" and far far to much was expected in terms of technical expertise of the staff that was putting it together.  I realize one cannot get to the orbit the bird was designed for without propulsion, but it is clear that propulsion is rocket science and that was the fatal flaw of 40...or probably any "amateur effort"...unless we get some very talented volunteer "rocket scientist".  
> Without a ride to the appropriate orbit that might be the fatal link in any future HEO.  But in any event more smaller birds to me make more sense then "one big one".  And if we cannot get that for various reasons...more AO-7's in my view are the answer.
> Oh well I learned a long time ago that the joy in life was changing the things you could change and just dealing with what one cannot...and that for me just is using the sats that are 'there' and having a ball at it.
> thanks again for your time and allowing me to bend your ear.  I use to be The President of my Community Association so I realize what a thankless job you and the AMSAT board have.
> Robert
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