[amsat-bb] Re: 22% votes

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Sat Sep 22 21:16:48 PDT 2012


Since this discussion started around the topic of the 700
ballots AMSAT-NA received for the Board election, let me
add one point to that thought.  Thanks to those who voted
in the election, whether or not you voted for me.  Thanks
for taking the time to consider each person who was on the
ballot, and for selecting the person or persons you voted

> Amsat is living in a brave new world where launches are fully commercialized
> and nobody gets a free ride anymore. We will either adapt to that paradigm
> shift or we will cease to exist.

This is the point some want to overlook.  It is unfortunate
that we are not able to get the free or extremely cheap
launches that we had in the past.  When there are more
satellites to be launched than launches, the launch providers
set the prices.  Other than some opportunities like AMSAT
has for Fox-1 from NASA, the days of free launches are
pretty much a thing of the past. So we adapt to the new

> AO-40 was a once in a lifetime opportunity. ESA offered us a 600 kilogram ride
> on one of the first Ariane 5 vehicles and we voted to go for it. The reasons
> for AO-40's failure have been covered before, and further analysis will not
> add to the discussion. It is not a mistake to throw deep sometimes. If AO-40
> had worked as designed, it would have revolutionized amateur radio. We gambled
> and lost and we will most likely never see another 600 kg launch opportunity.
> The Eagle project was started about a decade ago in hope of launching a more
> modest HEO replacement for AO-40, and to be able to do so on a regular basis
> so that a single satellite failure would not ground the entire program. This
> effort was overtaken by the tidal wave of cubesats. With every single
> university on Earth launching a cubesat all of the available launch
> opportunities are filled with pea-pod launchers and there is no room for
> Eagle, unless someone writes a check for $10 million.

Even before the late-2000s global financial crisis, AMSAT-NA was
not receiving a steady stream of contributions to support the Eagle
project. Add in the ITAR regulations that have put a serious crimp
on how US hams can interact with the rest of the world on satellite
projects, things have changed - and not for the better.  ITAR also
got in the way of US hams and AMSAT-NA helping AMSAT-DL
with Phase-3E.  Take a look at the AMSAT-NA Fox PayPal widget
and how much it is up to.  It will be helpful for Fox, but AMSAT-NA
needs a whole lot more to begin talking about an HEO project.  It's
unfortunate, but that's what we're up against.

If AMSAT-NA decided to build an HEO satellite without an airtight
guaranteed launch opportunity or funding for a launch, this would
be a most irresponsible move on the part of the AMSAT-NA Board.
AMSAT-NA cannot, and should not, start an HEO project in the
hopes there will be a launch opportunity or the funding for a launch
that will show up when the satellite is ready. We'd end up with a
satellite that sits on a lab shelf somewhere, just like Phase-3E,
and the AMSAT-NA Board would deserve to be run out of town
for an expenditure like that going nowhere. With this in mind, and
the previous Eagle project's failure to attract the needed
contributions, AMSAT-NA is proceeding with the Fox project and
other efforts for launches or projects where an amateur payload
can ride along on other satellites.  AMSAT-DL is proceeding with
its efforts to find a launch opportunity, and I hope they are
successful.  The same is true for AMSAT-UK and the FUNcube,
the New Zealand KiwiSAT project, among others.

Many of you have heard me talk about the fun I have had working the
satellites over the past few years.  I never had the opportunity to work
the HEO satellites we had.  If Phase-3E, or some other HEO satellite,
were to be launched - I'd enjoy the work to change my station so it
could use that satellite.  Until then, I will enjoy working the satellites
we have - all LEO, SSB and even FM, despite not holding a Technician
license anymore.



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