[amsat-bb] What on earth (or in space...) is going on?

Robert McGwier rwmcgwier at gmail.com
Sun Dec 27 14:25:38 UTC 2015


Your confusion is completely understandable and I will do the best I am
allowed and able to do to explain.

First, my apologies to everyone for the necessary low profile on P3E.

The agreement announced was "We get P3E if I get a launch".

That is as far as I AM ALLOWED TO GO.

I am requesting from the US government a way, a path forward, that puts
something they want tested into P3E and in return, they give us and our
amateur satellite service payload a ride DIRECTLY to the final orbit, no
motor required.

The branch of the US government being worked with is VERY averse to
publicity.  Thus, radio silence.

Peter and AMSAT-DL were told by me: " Should you say yes and give to me the
future might very well be: We have secured the launch, and oh, by the way
it was launched yesterday and the orbital elements are.....".

Secrecy and a guarantee of that's REQUIRED to work with the US government
on many occasions.

The USG is studying and is SO FAR positively considering the Phase 3E
proposal. I'm sure you've seen that only in the last month has the bloody
congress of the US and the president of the US have passed and signed a NEW
BUDGET. Since this is a NEW INITIATIVE it must come from a new budget since
it was NOT ALLOWED on a continuing resolution.


On Phase 4 B, there are two entirely separate activities underway and while
they can work together, only one needs the other.

AMSAT raised a large pot of money and VT and AMSAT used it to pay for a
study to convince the USAF that we would be good citizens if they carried
our little payload in their huge spacecraft.  That study will be completed
in January. Only then will we know that we even HAVE a mission.

Separate from AMSAT, VT and Mike Parker KT7D and Rincon Research, Inc, the
company he founded have undertaken the technical development of the
spacecraft payload COMPLETELY AT RISK because we don't know the payload can
accommodate us. That is what the study is for.

Neither Virginia a Tech nor Rincon people are volunteers. They must be
paid. We have decided that AMSAT has small chance of raising the millions
it will take to do this mission, so it is now A VT MISSION with help from
AMSAT and based on a major donation of flight hsrdware and software from

Only in the month of December did I find a couple of hams who were willing
to risk enough money to allow us to do the technical work even though all
of the AMSAT money, the Rincon money and the donations VT has received
might go for nothing.

All involved think the upside potential is so huge, the risk is worth

In parallel to the spacecraft payload effort, done under the cloak of ITAR,
is another effort done out in the open and free from ITAR is an effort to
design a inexpensive ground terminal for amateurs that would cost tens of
thousands of dollars commercially for as much under $1000 as we can get it.

We benefit from being completely open source, open specification, and
totally free from ITAR on this ground terminal. Furthermore, since it is
software defined radio, it is easily reprogrammed to do many different
kinds of missions just be changing the software.

The ground terminal effort has received generous donation of hsrdware for
development of the system quickly from Ettus Research. AMSAT-NA wants to
attempt to use the terminal for current and future projects so the VPE,
Jerry Buxton, invested in a copy for use in Texas by antenna and other
developers for both spacecraft and ground terminal pieces.

At Virginia Tech I have four students, two members of technical staff,  two
research faculty and our newly minted adjunct professor Tom Clark K3IO all
now SUPPORTED to do the work but this happened IN THE WEEK JUST BEFORE

Michelle Thompson, W5NYV is leading the development of ground terminal FOR
PHASE4B and has volunteered to help AMSAT with ground terminal for  any
projects Jerry wants to have AMSAT consider.

If the payload accommodation study is successful, and if we get our payload
ready and if we raise millions NOT FROM AMSAT SOURCES Phase 4B will go in
late 2018 or early 2019.

Finally, I am director of a research center at Virginia that has over 100
students, research staff, and affiliated faculty. I started both of these
initiatives but I have huge responsibilities and I've needed to raise money
to pay for those to whom I'm now delegating lots of this work.

Doing all this and running the research center (the second largest at
Virginia Tech), has been more than a full time job. AMSAT had been consumed
with Fox1A, -Cliff, and -D which they committed to BEFORE these
opportunities arose. AMSAT is undergoing a true resurgence inside and this
will translate into a major rebirth of the organization.

As a newly minted director of AMSAT, speaking only for myself, I appreciate
your enthusiasm for wanting these projects and in impatient as heck to get
them up. As director of AMSAT I know I can't waive a magic wand and make
them happen. It will take thousands of volunteer hours and your financial
support and your cheerleading and advocacy to get them up.

As director of research of Hume Center of Virginia Tech, it will take
millions of dollars and dedicated paid engineers and project management
(professional) to work with the US government to accomplish these goals.

Finally, we are busting our hump to get things done, and we all want them
desperately and your positive encouragement is something we all seek.

73s and may 2016 be as awesome as it can be,

On Saturday, December 26, 2015, Pete Parisetti <peteparisetti at gmail.com>

> I have been sucked into a discussion that makes me feel like I have spent
> the last six months in a coma...
> In a nutshell:
> Now, let me remind you of the latest developments, as seen from a casual
> but highly interested observer like myself, and you will tell me if this is
> a sad joke or what.
> 1) From the AMSAT newsfeed, on July 25 we learn that "AMSAT-NA, AMSAT-DL,
> and Virginia Tech Announce Potential Phase-3E Opportunity".
> 2) In the following months there has been absolutely NO FOLLOW-UP, no
> information whatsoever on this potentially crucial piece of information.
> 3) A couple of days ago, completely out of the blue, we learn that "AMSAT
> Ground Terminal Development Expands to Texas".
> Hello? WTF is going on here? The P3E launch opportunity has morphed into a
> geostationary satellite (never heard a thing about that). The projct has
> morphed from a P3E "old school" satellite into this digital monster (never
> heard a thing about that). Things have developed to such an extent that now
> "ground terminals are being expanded"...
> Here's a link to the thread:
> http://forums.qrz.com/index.php?threads/first-amateur-radio-in-geosynchronous-orbit.505312/page-3
> 73 HNY Pete MM0TWX
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Bob McGwier
Founder, Federated Wireless, Inc
Founder and Technical Advisor, HawkEye 360, Inc
Research Professor Virginia Tech
Dir. Research:  The Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security and
Senior Member IEEE, Facebook: N4HYBob, ARS: N4HY
Faculty Advisor Virginia Tech Amateur Radio Assn. (K4KDJ)
Director of AMSAT

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