[amsat-bb] AMSAT, ITAR, More AMSAT-NA Volunteers & Such . . .

Alex, N3SQ amsat at elkmtn.org
Mon Nov 16 09:35:26 PST 2009

Ladies & Gentlemen,

Here's the main thing to think about ITAR. ITAR regulates OUTFLOW of 
information, it doesn't care about INFLOW of information. If you build 
or design it by a non-US Person (Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident) 
and you bring it INTO the US, ITAR does not care. So AMSAT-NA can use 
designs from P3E, but cannot design parts of P3E.

So the logical thing to do is have all "major" future AMSAT spacecraft 
be AMSAT-NA managed spacecraft with design elements (camera systems, 
experiments, etc.) contributed by other AMSAT organizations. The only 
main technical interaction between the AMSATs would be via a standard, 
open-sourced, well-published-in-technical-journals interface 
specification. Money could be contributed from other AMSATs to fund 
launch & development costs.

As for the mantra of "no one being able to develop the equipment in the 
US" . . . The volunteer base is not capped, just expand the size of the 
volunteer base and organize it better. None of the experienced engineers 
should be directly building hardware, we should all be supervising teams 
of engineering students who actually build the equipment. There are over 
250 University Engineering programs in the US. Each of those programs 
have at least 50 students in each graduating class. Let's say that we 
can get 15% of the students interested in working on a satellite 
project  (my personal observations  are more like 75% of the students 
are interested).

Let's do the Math:
Worse Case: 250 Schools x 50 students per graduating class x 15% =  1875 
Best Case: 250 Schools x 50 students per graduating class x 75% =  9375  
And this is just talking about COLLEGE SENIORS - EE's, ME's, CE's, CS's, 
SE's . . . double the number if you include the Juniors.

Anywhere near this load of students would completely overload the 
current AMSAT-NA volunteer base. But talk about the potentially 
available volunteer base!

With Binghamton University, I had 7 Hardware Engineering slots available 
on the team. There are 200 Hardware Engineers in the BU graduating class 
- about 168 of the students wanted to be on the Satellite Project Team, 
a 24x over-subscription. That's pretty impressive. I could have had more 
teams, but we need to crawl, the walk, then run with this activity - 
EVOLUTIONARY not REVOLUTIONARY (but let's just make sure evolution works 
quickly . . .)

The current BU student team is "stoked", they are really excited to be 
working the project. Every week I get thanked by the students for 
bringing the project to their attention. They have done some really 
great work and they have a great faculty advisor, Dr. Roger Westgate. I 
expect that there will be more than 1 project team next year working on 
an AMSAT satellite, assuming AMSAT is interested in sponsoring more.

So stop crying into your beer over ITAR. The world is not coming to an 
end. Let's work to launch spacecraft within the ITAR limits.
In the meantime, let the AMSAT-NA BoD navigate it's way through the 
byzantine structure of the US Govt to try to bring about change in ITAR.

Alex Harvilchuck, N3NP

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