[amsat-bb] Re: Satellites

Gus 8P6SM 8p6sm at anjo.com
Sat Sep 22 19:21:06 PDT 2012

On 09/22/2012 06:55 PM, K4FEG wrote:


When I was active on satellite, we had multiple, digital, store 'n' 
forward PacSats, each with several simultaneous uplink frequencies.  We 
had single-channel FM birds operating at LEO so people could work them 
with HTs.  We had LEO and HEO birds with linear transponders with 
pass-bands 100k wide or more.  You could QSO with Russian Robots.  You 
could work Mode-A, -B, -J, -L and -S.  Even, as I did a few times, B/S 
(no BS!).  Some of these birds would come up over the hill and hang 
there in the sky for 4, 6, maybe even 8 hours at a time.  There were 
birds with communications ranges of more than 15,000 Km.

Over and above the communications capabilities, most satellites were 
also experimental platforms of some sort or another.  Testing memory 
error correction software.  Testing tantalum and brass shielding for 
delicate circuitry.  Running beacons at extremely high frequencies.

All of this TWENTY years ago.

Nowadays... what?  We have a handful of single-channel FM birds, and a 
handful of linear transponders, all at LEO.  The youngest of these is 
seven years old.  The remainder are all in double-digits, with La Grande 
Dame an incredible THIRTY EIGHT years old!

Ok, so forgive me if I suffer from OFS (Old Fart Syndrome) which 
occasionally causes a droplet to fall from my eye.  But it is 
embarrassing to consider how much PROGRESS we've made in the last twenty 

The amateur satellite community were the first to try lots of new launch 
technology, and to bear the risk of those tests.  Those technologies now 
earn millions for the launch providers every year, but we don't earn a 
cent and we certainly don't rate even the occasional free ride.  We have 
no friends in those launch providers.  We have no friends in NASA, 
apparently.  We have no friends in government.  We have nothing much, 

Except we have a spectrum allocation.  One that every Tom, Dick and 
Harry seems to want to use.  Yet we can't leverage this into anything of 
any particular value to us?  Year after year, launch after launch, we 
hear about educational Yawn-Sats with "amateur payloads" that are really 
the satellite operators running telemetry and telecommand on OUR 
frequencies and giving nothing back in return.  How that continues to 
happen, I can't even begin to guess.  If it were up to a dummy like me 
there would be NO MORE LAUNCHES using amateur frequencies, unless they 
carried a GENUINE amateur payload as part of the flight hardware.  (Or 
at least made a fat donation to a launch-fund, but that's probably 
illegal.)  Thank goodness there are smarter people out there who 
wouldn't make the sort of mistake I would!  Because allowing them to use 
our frequencies entirely for their own purposes, year after year, is 
hailed as the best and only way forward.

So yes, my friend.  Work 'em while they're there!  Because it sure don't 
look like we are going to get any more.  And even if we do, don't expect 
to get anything even REMOTELY as advanced as we used to have, two 
decades ago.  Nowadays, ker-chunking a flying repeater is the absolute 
height of satellite sophistication!

Sorry, gotta go.  Droplets are leaking from my eyes again.

73, de Gus 8P6SM
The Easternmost Isle

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