[amsat-bb] Re: Geostationary Satellites-HEO MEO

Dee morsesat at optonline.net
Tue Oct 11 13:38:09 PDT 2011

As most of you know me, I am one of the voices in the crowd
within  satellite circles and have been accused of having my
own agenda.  I am a fixture at many hamfests here in the New
Jersey Area and wherever I can present to the Amateur
community the aspects of satellite activity and promote
AMSAT's proliferation.  I give many talks and dog and pony
shows to various clubs.  My motto is "I work for donations!"
I am glad this thread was ongoing since I come across this
type of thinking all the time.  It's a good discussion since
AMSAT membership is declining and Satellite enthusiasm is
dwindling, so I read.

While this area of insuring plans for HEO and MEO birds is one
of my pet projects, AMSAT itself has re-addressed itself to
LEO activities because of financial reaches that present
launches are out of the normal  (?) abilities of AMSAT to
obtain.  My many unscientific polls as to why hams are not
rejoining AMSAT nor assisting future funding shows that they
think we have to put up HEO or MEO birds to attract them back
into the fold.  Of course this doesn't make sense and it
doesn't add to our present coffers to even think about these
type of birds.  Yes, it costs money to do these things.

In the past, there were negotiations behind the scenes with a
GEO-Sync satellite company to add our payload to one of these
birds.  Company was sold, contacts were lost and so went that
avenue.  As with an AO-40 type satellite, we had numerous
items made by our supporting volunteers and many, many, many
volunteer hours to see that satellite came to fruition.
Volunteers even gave up precious vacation time to work on this
project.   A minimal cost launch by Arianne certainly provided
a great opportunity.  Some of our people went by the wayside
since then and we lost engineering staff to fall back on.

As Dan, N8FGV, points out to us all is that our dreams are
still there.  We need to reactivate those spirits  as he
indicates.  One person stated, "I am willing to ante up
$4000-I need to convince 4,999 of my friends to do the same."
We are all Amateurs in this satellite area and as pioneers in
Ham Radio, we must reinvent ourselves to continue to be
prominent in building sats with real actual launches rooted
out where we can.  We have dedicated people now in active
building projects for slots available for launch.  My hat is
off to them and I will always support their efforts.  Having
functioning packages on the ready is a big plus-  Look at
ARISsat-1 and that was a super job by "OUR" staff to step up
and act before the deadline.  (We don't need no stinkin' UHF
antenna!) (OOPS?)

Dan provides us with answers to all these questions of why and
why not.  Read his input as well and I think this thread needs
the answer of how much is the Amateur community willing to
contribute to keep these higher orbiting satellite ideas
alive.  Anyone have a "RICH" uncle to donate something to this
superfund?  I think that we need a spark - incentive - or a
benefactor to step up to get us on the launch pad at the right
spot.  Lottery tickets seem to be the American dream (HI, HI).
Please feel free to "thank" our many sincere volunteers that
keep publications coming, transponders appearing, protecting
frequency allocations, monitoring rule proposals, Symposiums
happening and informational updates accurate.
Dee, NB2F
NJ AMSAT Coordinator

-----Original Message-----
From: amsat-bb-bounces at amsat.org
[mailto:amsat-bb-bounces at amsat.org] On Behalf Of Daniel
Sent: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 2:03 AM
To: amsat-bb at amsat.org
Subject: [amsat-bb] Re: Geostationary Satellites

It is true that a Geo bird would only cover 1/3 of the Earth,
but it would ALWAYS be there, with no need for antenna rotors
or keps or a computer for tracking. It would be like picking
up a telephone. It would be wonderful for emergency service in
a disaster area. It could provide high speed digital
communications on the amateur microwave bands in places where
the internet is not available.

Geosynchronous orbit slots are allocated by transponder
frequency. On the amateur radio bands we are free to locate a
satellite anywhere we can get to because we don't share our
frequencies with commercial transponders.

The reason we don't have any high altitude satellites is all
about the money.
We amateurs created the small satellite business. Back in the
old days the big boys laughed at our cute little toy
satellites, but they did allow us to bolt them to a launch
vehicle for free or for very low cost. The experts were
certain that our homebrew satellites wouldn't last a week
without expensive mil-spec electronic components. We amateurs
proved that small satellites were useful and thus created a
market that we are now priced out of. The launches that used
to be free can now be sold to paying customers for millions of
dollars. Many of the companies in the small satellite business
were founded by Amsat alumni.

We amateurs are a non-commercial service, by law, with no
product or service that we can sell to raise the $10 million
that we would need to buy the sort of launch that we once got
for very cheap. We cannot participate in the market economy
because the law prohibits us from making money from our
activity, which puts us at a huge disadvantage in competing
for launches against those satellite owners who can make
money. If future access to space is going to be limited to
those with a good business plan then we might as well pack it
in as satellite builders. The educational-industrial complex
has no place for "amateurs" working alone in their basements
and garages without any sort of formal academic plan and no
supervision by management.

Nobody in the commercial or government world cares if we can
talk to Japan or Europe on amateur satellites or collect rare
grid squares. It is all about education, which I am all in
favor of except that I question if there really is such a
crying shortage of engineers in the world. The students
building their little Cubesats are going to find out someday
that working for Lockheed Martin or Boeing or NASA is a far,
far different world than their experience in building

The Cubesats are a useless diversion but are popular with the
powers that be because they allow young college students to
build a satellite and deliver it to the launch pad. They are
too small to carry the type of payload that we need to do
effective communications in a high altitude orbit. The
students and their sponsors don't care if the satellite
actually works on orbit because they will have graduated by
the time it is launched. They recognize that the world wide
network of hams is a valuable resource for tracking and
telemetry collection, but they use amateur radio frequencies
without giving back anything to support the basis and purpose
of amateur radio.

If we are ever again going to have high altitude satellites
for world wide DX and supporting high rate digital
communications on our amateur microwave bands we will need to
find clever ways to get larger satellites such as Eagle into
higher orbits.

We also screwed up with the failure of AO-40. We could have
had 10,000 or more Amsat members right now if that satellite
had worked as designed. Even if we could raise the bucks to
build another one, there is no chance of getting another
Ariane 5 launch. Amsat-DL has not been able to find any launch
for the smaller Phase 3E satellite for any amount of money
that we can think about paying.

The way we did things two decades ago is not how we are going
to do things now. Maybe we will never again have an
Amsat-designed and built satellite but perhaps we can place a
transponder on someone else's satellite in return for some
sort of added value to them. There is money available for
education support, maybe we can get some of it if we appeal to
the right people. Maybe we can carry science experiments for
NASA or some other agency if we provide operations support
with telemetry and command. Maybe we can tap the same funding
sources that the Google lunar competitors are getting. I don't
have the answers, except that we will need to be just as
clever as our predecessors were 50 years ago if we are ever
going to have high altitude, high performance amateur
satellites in our future.

Dan Schultz, N8FGV

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