[amsat-bb] Why do hamsats?

Rocky Jones orbitjet at hotmail.com
Fri Oct 16 10:01:30 PDT 2009

Bruce.  I changed the title.  I didnt like Frank doing what he did in public and as far as I am concern the exchange is over.

I got three points from you're piece...and they are good ones.

First..the educational benefits of suitsat 1 and 2.

I have no doubt thanks to folks like you (and others) there was educational value (and perhaps inspirational value) from the suitsat experience.  No doubt.

The other day when LCROSS was suppose to do the "plume" thing we had about 15 kids over (early in the morning) to "watch it" through the 12 and 4.5 inch tube.  Santa Fe TX is a "semi rural" area with large "farms"...and the kids are use to getting up early, but a bunch of neighborhood kids came over with the invite of the 10 year olds...and we had eggs for breakfast and models and some computer tracking programs running...and even though there was nothing to be seen (turns out by almost anything!) there was a great deal of fun, some good education opportunity and all that.

Problem is that the big question (the 80 million dollar question) still remains...1) did the mission do what it was suppose to do and 2) was it the best use of 80 million dollars to answer that question (as well as the unique opportunity the launch provided).  Those are answers that do not get ameliorated by the educational value of what occurred.

Education is a good thing, but but unless it is the primary goal of whatever was being done then the primary thing has to have value commensurate with cost  all on its own.  

Ham radio is about communicating.  If we want to turn its primary task into "education" then it will look very very different.

Second the odds of success.  I had let the topic drop until it was brought up by someone else.  It is to me depressing.  AMSAT NA in particular seems to be (at least in my view) on a high technology kamikaze mission.  The reason Oscars I through 13 were quite successful is that they each (might have had problems) built on the success and knowledge of the last one.    They were robust, single focused (ie they were transponders and limited at that).  Todays efforts are "one gadget after another" in my view.   Hence the sat population is decreasing.

Suitsat 1 failed technologically (grin) even though it was a very simple satellite.  Prudent engineering doctrine would say "try it or something slightly more complicated again" and get it correct before moving on to something vastly more complicated.  Instead it is "we cannot get people to work on it if it is not something cool".  as if getting a vehicle into space that works shouldnt all on its own be something ...

The folks who are "in charge" have chosen this path...see how it works.

Third...I have no problem with them taking the opportunity  

Many years ago we brought the airplane that is today the preeminent two engine "heavy" into the old Denver Stapleton airport so the launch customer could show it off.   (it was pretty cool actually, even though the "concrete" could handle the light weight of the big twin, the asphalt covering couldnt and boards had to be put down to keep the trucks from sinking).  The launch customer (UAL) brought out a Boeing 247 for comparison.

One of the first things that they did was open the airplane(s) up for school kids.  They had pilots and flight attendants in current and period outfits...the educational value was pretty splendid.

But it meant nothing if the Big Twin couldnt keep the wings on it (the problem with its sister).... 

Robert WB5MZO

PS...as for being sarcastic...I confess the end got the better of me.  it detracted from my point!  

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