[amsat-bb] Re: THE DMSP launch

Daniel Schultz n8fgv at usa.net
Sun Oct 18 20:51:12 PDT 2009

Someone wrote:

>as I recall there were 50 some odd pounds of ballast launched with the
>bad it wasnt an amateur repeater.

>to bad we didnt have something to use that excess performance...they flew
>ballast on the flight


Why would they fly ballast on their rocket when they could have flown a ham

1. Ballast does not need to be tested for Electromagnetic Compatibility or
contamination of the primary payload. The Interface Control Document for a
block of concrete can be exceedingly simple, with no need to pay a room full
of engineers to review it for completeness and accuracy.

2. Ballast does not need to have a separation interface tested and qualified,
there is no chance of it coming loose inside the payload shroud during

3. Ballast is certain to be ready in time for the launch date, without
bringing another organization into the mix. There is no need to conduct a
crash engineering program to design a satellite structure that will fit on the
Atlas and then test and certify the satellite for compliance with the Atlas
vibration and acoustic specifications.  

4. Ballast does not have an e-mail group full of whining little people who
think they could have designed it better or that it operates on the wrong band
or mode, and complaining loudly when the mission falls months or years behind
its original launch date. 

If you were the Colonel in charge of the mission, you could not make a safer
choice than launching a block of concrete ballast. A ham satellite is just a
lot of additional risk and headache with no possible gain for you or your
future career. 

Somewhere in the world there may be an officer who is willing to take that
risk. That is how Oscar-1 was launched in 1961. The challenge is to find that
person and nurture a relationship with him or her. If they are reading the
comments on Amsat-BB they are probably thinking "there is no way I would ever
want to have a relationship with that wacky organization"

Dan Schultz N8FGV

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