[amsat-bb] Re: The Beef Frank is in the east

Bruce Robertson ve9qrp at gmail.com
Fri Oct 16 06:43:16 PDT 2009

On Fri, Oct 16, 2009 at 12:14 AM, Rocky Jones <orbitjet at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Finally..
> As for 80 percent of "suitsat 2 failing"...actually that is the consensus among a lot of folks at the center.  I give "Suitsat 2" less then 10 percent chance of working.  That didnt take oh several decades of dealing with complex programs or a bunch of US government schools or a lot of engineering degrees to figure out.  It is really not "rocket science"...Suitsat 1 was a bomb and it was much simpler.  Now they are trying something more complicated...  I am not even sure it deploys.  If it flops well it is hard to see a lot of ham radio traction on the space station after that.

I find it terribly frustrating, Rocky, that you keep repeating your
entirely bleak assessment of Suitsat, in light of the number of
letters I've sent in reply that indicate that the educational aspect
of that mission was, in my experience, quite successful. As a sample
of these, see, http://www.mail-archive.com/amsat-bb@amsat.org/msg02665.html
I know and respect that you do not value that mission as much as other
aspects of the amateur satellite program, but to make an honest
assessment of Suitsat, you need to do it on its own terms, and, as I
understood it, education and outreach was a large part of it.

That said, there were problems with the original suitsat which, were
they to appear in ISSSat, would make it difficult (but not impossible,
I'd venture) for it to fulfill its missions. However, the reasoning
that you ascribe to JPL space scientists seems to suggest that the
ISSSat people are unable to learn from these past problems, an
attitude that I would think might make their day job very depressing
indeed. I rather hope that the majority of space engineers take a more
optimistic view of their field; but a discussion at a birthday party
is nothing like a survey, of course, so 'consensus' above is an

Finally, I'd add that even if your 'less than 10%' assessment were
knowable and correct, I would say that AMSAT is right to take this
opportunity. We have put a lot of effort into SDX on the ground, it is
a very attractive technology, and a free launch opportunity for this
is too good to pass up. Moreover, I suspect there are many things
being learned along the way in integrating this technology in the
spaceframe, which will help us know more. I'm also not sure that the
stakes are as high as you suggest: in your assessment, SS1 was a
failure, yet we still have been allowed to do SS2. Perhaps the ISS
folks recognize other benefits that your assessment does not.

> But Just think, if it works you can tell me I was wrong!  Wont that be fun?

I'm sorry to say this, but the above quotation displays a very poor
attitude to the efforts of this organization. If I were a betting man,
and the bookies would take odds on satellite launches, I'd bet against
just about every amateur satellite launch effort. This isn't because
we are bad at what we do, it is because space is hard, we often have
to get rides on less-than-proven launches, and we try new things. But
I want to be part of a group that beats the odds, that does something
spectacular, that makes people young and old say, "That's cool!". When
it succeeds, a healthy organization does not use this fact to turn on
the detractors within its ranks because it is too busy enjoying
success; but equally, detractors should not take any pleasure in
failures, but rather work hard to give specific advice about how best
to find success.

73, Bruce

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