[amsat-bb] Ham Sats Dead?

Clint Bradford clintbradford at mac.com
Sun Oct 2 10:29:59 PDT 2011

In another forum, an unenlightened ham made the following allegation. Sorry, folks - 
I just cannot let this type of nonsense go unanswered ... (grin)

ELSEWHERE >> ... I'm sure but the amateur satellite service is on life support right 
now ... things like the ARISSAT are just a novelty ...

I am proud to report that NO, this aspect of the hobby is by no means "dead" nor dying.

We received more than 100 applications for ARISS school-to-ISS contacts for the first 
part of next year. That means there's 100 school principals and 200 teachers who are 
interested - and their enthusiasm is transmitted (pun intended) to their students, 
numbering in the thousands. SO, there ARE educators and school children receiving 
information and whose lesson plans include amateur radio and the ISS.

This is important. Those who demean projects like ARISSat-1 are not educators. This 
project alone has stimulated the minds of hundreds of thousands of school children 
around the planet - through the work of teachers. There's PLENTY to be taught and 
learned from such a project - and it IS being taught.

One of the two popular study guides for amateur radio licensing - the "2010-2014 
Technician Class by Gordon West" - has a sidebar with satelllite-related links for 
further information. Heck, Gordo ran a Technician class yesterday to a standing-
room-only crowd, and he made his traditional "test call" on a local repeater ... I 
happened to be on the air, answered him, and gave those soon-to-be-hams a plug 
for working the satellites ...

Of course we would like another high-altitude bird. It takes money. 99.999% of 
those who demean current AMSAT projects don't give a cent to AMSAT. The 
wildly-successful-by-ANYone's-standards AO-51 project cost approximately $500K 
to build, plus another $110K to launch. As a testament to how well that sat was 
engineered, it is continuing to transmit at 800mW+ the past two months - with 
one battery cell dead and another at 0.1V. It continues to be included in school 
lesson plans, as well as public demonstrations, Field Days, JOTA and Scout activities, 
and it's there for just you and me to step outside a few times a week and work with 
a Watt or two ...

My bottom line? Folks who claim that this aspect of the hobby is "dead" or "dying" 
might be correct, in that for them in their small circles, they may not be excited 
with the current satellite projects. But in reality, the existing LEOs are wonderful 
teaching tools - being taught about and studied and appreciated - in classrooms 
and presentation rooms and hamfests and conventions and parking lots and public 
parks -  across the planet.

Donate to AMSAT. Today. Be a part of the future of the amateur satellite program. 
Amend your will, and include AMSAT-NA in your estate - there's a method to donate 
that doesn't "hurt" a bit. And volunteer to give a demo at your local middle school 
or high school. Be a part of the educational process - see how YOU can bring 
excitement to a classroom of future hams.

OR, just sit back and without knowledge of reality declare "Ham sats are dead," 
in public message forums. 

The choice is yours.

Clint Bradford, K6LCS
NASA / ARISS school technical support volunteer
AMSAT area coordinator

More information about the AMSAT-BB mailing list