[amsat-bb] Re: a little perspective

Jim Jerzycke kq6ea at verizon.net
Thu Aug 4 21:25:20 PDT 2011

Phil, let me start by saying that I hold in the highest respect for all 
you've done for Amateur radio, and digital communications in particular. 
I appreciate your foresight in many areas, and rooted for you even when 
other people were griping about "That Crap Phil Is Pushing".

I've been involved in Amateur Radio for almost 50 years, so I'm no rank 
beginner, and I've been employed in the Aerospace industry for the last 
30 years. I've BUILT satellite components, and integrated them into 
spacecraft. Some of the Really Neat Things I built at Hughes Aircraft 
are still up there. For the last 7 years I've been employed by a company 
that launches satellites to GTO, and I'm extremely familiar with 
everything that goes into getting the customer's package into space.

We joke about "The rocket won't lift-off until the stack of paperwork is 
as high as the payload fairing".

This deployment was NOT done properly. To call it the rousing "success" 
that some are trumpeting out here is wrong.

A fully functional spacecraft was delivered to the launch service, and 
they screwed up.

A important part of the spacecraft was damaged, and the attitude was 
"Gee, it had another antenna thing on it? Well, we don't know what 
happened to it, and we really don't care, as this toy is interfering 
with our real work".

If this was such a now-or-never deployment because of the limited life 
of the batteries, then the deployment should have been carried out to 
the letter. To hear that nobody knows (or admits) what level of training 
the crew had is very disturbing.

To hear what amounts to "Don't worry, it was designed to be idiot-proof" 
is also disturbing as it clearly was not.

If "things" had to be attached to the spacecraft before deployment, 
there should have been a concise, detailed checklist, and the stowage of 
those items should also have been handled with care so they didn't get 

I'm happy that it appears to be working, as I know a lot of sweat went 
into it. Everybody involved, except the ISS crew that deployed it, 
deserve a hearty pat on the back.

And as far as using a satellite to communicate with people "That could 
be done much more easily over the Internet" misses the whole point.

We're trying to get young people involved with Amateur RADIO; they 
already qualify as Internet Experts.
The allure to many young people is being able to do this *without* 
wires, and an ISP, and a monthly bill.

A piece of wire is just a wire, but radio is magic. It's what made it 
appealing to me 50 years ago, and a lot of other people, too.

And if the radio just happens to be whizzing by 250 miles above you, 
that adds to the magic.

I apologize if I came across as a bit cranky in my first few posts, but 
having "Ben There, Done That" with space hardware, I couldn't believe 
what I was hearing and reading.

These guys wouldn't last 30 days in a real company.

If they worked for Elon Musk, they probably wouldn't last 30 minutes.....

73, Jim

On 08/05/2011 02:13 AM, Phil Karn wrote:
> On 8/3/11 8:21 PM, Jim Jerzycke wrote:
>> At least AO-40 had a usable life for some. This thing is just another
>> squawk box in space, like all the "student" satellites that are using
>> the Amateur Radio frequencies for a free downlink.
> Jim,
> With the successful transponder tests it would seem that you spoke too
> soon. Besides, I really like lemonade.
> As far as I'm concerned, educational satellites carrying student
> scientific experiments are a perfectly legitimate use of the amateur
> spectrum as long as licensed amateurs are centrally involved and the
> experimental data is in the clear and publicly documented.
> I certainly have no objection to two-way transponders for open ham use.
> I'm as delighted as anyone that the ARISSat-1 transponder seems to be
> working well despite its damaged 70cm antenna.
> But AMSAT has been flying linear transponders for over 40 years now, and
> you have to admit they're pretty old hat. When I became a ham in 1971,
> just hearing a satellite direct from space was pretty interesting.
> Actually talking through one was totally beyond cool. You just can't
> expect today's kids to feel that way when they already use the Internet,
> mobile phones, GPS, Sirius/XM and DirecTV every day.
> Ham radio can't possibly survive as a mere communications medium. We
> must emphasize all its other uses, some of which are still unique.
> At the top of that list is *EDUCATION*. Ham radio remains the only way
> for ordinary individuals to learn radio technology hands-on. If you just
> want to talk to people, mobile phones are great. But just try taking one
> apart to see how it works!
> Ordinary individuals can also advance radio technology through ham
> radio. And they can use it for other technical and scientific
> investigations. Although mobile phones and the Internet now provide
> inexpensive, near-ubiquitous communications between any two points on
> earth, they still don't go everywhere. Like near outer space, which ham
> radio reaches easily.
> So using a ham satellite just to link points on the earth that could
> communicate much more easily over the Internet doesn't interest me as
> much as using ham radio to communicate with the satellite itself. And
> satellites have much to "talk" about: camera images, information about
> the satellite itself (i.e., telemetry), scientific data from experiments
> and human-human communications from any astronauts or cosmonauts on
> board. Instead of trying to compete with the Internet, it can complement
> our radio links (e.g., KA2UPW's telemetry repository). This is
> especially handy for satellites in low orbits with short passes over any
> one location.
> Amateur satellites can be so much more than simple transponders; in
> fact, they'll have to be. And I think that's a good trend.
> --Phil

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