[amsat-bb] Re: Moon can cost less than HEO/GEO

Armando Mercado am25544 at triton.net
Fri Jul 3 13:57:56 PDT 2009


First of all, I appreciate the efforts of the dedicated few of
AMSAT that actually go out and make things happen.
You don't hear "Thank you" often enough.

Being this early in the idea phase, there are a lot of
questions and unknowns.  What frequencies to use and
what the link requirements will be can all be worked out.

The bigger question for me is if the moon is a good platform
for an amateur transponder.  No doubt it is technically doable.
If the decision is based only on launch availability--It's the moon
or nothing at all--then to the moon we go.  But let's all
understand what we are getting into.

To the best of my knowledge, NASA does not now have an
unmanned lunar lander mission that has been approved, although
there is a lander planned in the greater scheme of things. Perhaps
someone could direct me to some current information.

The last I knew, the plan called for a lander referred to as RLEP-2.
It was going to be a lander/rover powered by RTG's with a 1 year
mission to explore Shackleton crater near the moon's south pole.
The cost was going to be in the $400-$750 million range.  The launch
vehicle was going to have excess capacity so it was proposed that
3-4 mini satellites be deployed in lunar orbit to do remote sensing
AND provide a communication link for the lander.

So, if this is the mission we are talking about putting our transponder
on, it sounds like we won't hear it on earth once the rover drives
into the crater.  Putting our transponder on one of the mini satellites
sounds like a better plan.

Again, I had difficulty finding current information on NASA's unmanned
lunar lander plans.  The last I read anything about RLEP-2 was that it
was in serious trouble because of cost and was going to be sharply
cut back.

If our NASA host spacecraft will take care of all the housekeeping
and provided free power, then a low cost transponder sounds like
something we can do (although AMSAT-NA currently does not have
a satellite lab--we may need to contract out the transponder work).
We just need to understand we will not have control of the on/off
switch (the repeater on the ISS or the Planetary Society's
microphone on the Mars Phoenix lander for example).

The days of getting a free launch is over, and it is too bad the Intelsat
ride share idea did not pan out for us.  As I have said before, I am
not opposed to a transponder on the moon, I just have a lot of
unanswered questions.

Thanks again to the dedicated few at AMSAT that make things happen.

Armando, N8IGJ

>Date: Thu, 2 Jul 2009 18:14:59 -0700 (PDT)
>From: MM <ka1rrw at yahoo.com>
>Subject: [amsat-bb]  Moon can cost less than HEO/GEO
>To: amsat-bb at amsat.org
>Message-ID: <228402.31352.qm at web56404.mail.re3.yahoo.com>
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8

 >High orbit launch prices

>I can?t afford that and I do not know anyone at Huges, so I am looking into 
>the piggyback options.  Let some other company pay the big bucks for the 
>flight >and navigation and just tag along for the ride.

More information about the AMSAT-BB mailing list