[amsat-bb] Re: A rose is a rose... is a rose

Dee morsesat at optonline.net
Mon Aug 8 15:41:39 PDT 2011

Yes, we shall continue to explore and give ourselves (AMSAT) every
opportunity to do these things.  Garage and home built with love from
our community.
Thanks for your thoughts.
A bystander, Dee, NB2F

Let's consider what we got from the Russians: they gave us a FREE 26
launch to low Earth orbit, with 20 times the mass and 75 times the
volume of a
1U Cubesat, which is currently the only type of satellite that Amsat
can hope
to pay full market price for launching. NASA donated the six solar
arrays and
gave us a ton of help with export paperwork which would have been a
bear if we
had to export the satellite to Russia by ourselves. For this fact
alone, we
should be grateful to both agencies, because nobody else has offered
us a 26
kilogram launch in the past decade.

In spite of this, we still need to conduct an Anomaly Review Board to
the reasons why the satellite was launched in a state of less than 100
readiness. This is not to assign blame but to see how we and our
partners can improve the procedure for the next launch.

The fundamental difference between educational satellites and amateur
satellites is that educational satellites can be considered successful
if they
deliver a working satellite to the launch pad, it does not need to
work on
orbit and the students who built it have probably graduated by the
time it
gets launched. Amateur satellites are supposed to perform a useful
communications function for some amount of years in a hostile
environment. The
best thing that Amsat can contribute to the student built satellites
is to
teach them to think about designing for reliability and long life, not
consider the mission successful if they collect a few weeks of
telemetry from
their beep-sat once it is in orbit.

I agree with Phil Karn on most of his points, but the hams who are out
collecting countries and grid squares are also testing our
infrastructure under real life conditions, without them we would only
be doing
a laboratory experiment. Hopefully some hams are bringing the kids
along on
their grid square expeditions to show them how we communicate under
conditions. I have often compared Amateur Radio to fishing: if you
just want
to eat fish it is certainly more cost effective to buy your fish at
the market
instead of wasting all that time trying to catch your own fish. Yet
people still enjoy fishing just for the challenge of testing their
under sometimes adverse conditions. In my case I still plant little
seedlings in the ground in spring time, waste lots of time watering
weeding them, waste lots of money on fertilizer and bug spray, and
hope I can
get a few tomatoes before the deer and rabbits get them, it certainly
would be
cheaper and easier to buy tomatoes at the supermarket. That is why we
Amateur Radio, we want to communicate in the least cost-effective way
because we seek the challenge of doing it ourselves instead of using
that any dummy with a credit card can buy at the mall.

As for why Amsat did not receive credit for building the satellite by
NASA or the Russians, journalists are a lazy bunch who like to copy
from press
releases and from each other. Universities and Government agencies
have full
time public affairs offices with people who know how to get their
stories into
print and on the air in a way that best serves the interests of their
organizations. We at Amsat don't know how to play this game and don't
have the
connections to do so. Students building little satellites in school is
a cute
story that practically writes itself, but journalists don't know how
explain amateurs building satellites in their garages and using them
collect QSL cards and grid squares.

In the aerospace industry, "Educational Satellites" are good, they are
training students who the industry can hire cheap (while getting rid
of the
older engineers who earn too much money), but "Amateur Satellites" are
because if a bunch of amateurs can build long lived, useful satellites
in a
garage, then why is industry charging 100's of millions of bucks for a
satellite? Jan King gave a talk at a professional meeting years ago
reported that certain business officials and military officers walked
out of
the room because they did not want to hear any more of his talk about
"garage satellites". It is too much of a threat to their established
way of
doing business. 

Anyone who has tried to find an engineering job recently knows that
there is
no shortage of engineers, but lazy journalists keep reporting about a
in STEM education and how we need to inspire the next generation to
science and engineering. The universities who need a steady stream of
freshmen, the industry which needs a steady stream of fresh
inexpensive young
blood, and government agencies who need to justify their existence
love to
play the STEM education card, even though most of it is not true. It
that every university in the world is building satellites but I doubt
even five percent of those students will find jobs in that field, and
that do will find that they have much less design authority and
freedom when
they are working for the big boys.

However I am willing to let Amsat play along with that game, if we can
get our
satellites launched along the way. I will leave it for others to
debate the
ethics of that action. We live in a hostile world where most
organizations do
not have our interests at heart. As in any business deal, we need to
use them
to get what we want in exchange for giving them some of what they
want. Use
the educational aspects to get our payloads into space, but recognize
that our
goals are sometimes different from theirs. 

So let's celebrate what has been accomplished, learn the lessons from
mistakes that were made in final assembly, preflight inspection and
deployment, and start planning ARISSat-2. If the Russians want to
claim credit
for building it all by themselves, so long as they put it into orbit
I'm OK with that.

Dan Schultz N8FGV

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