[eagle] Re: what is going on?, some technical content at last.

Andrew Glasbrenner glasbrenner at mindspring.com
Fri Jul 11 04:20:37 PDT 2008

Bob wrote:
> There is an alternative to think about.  I would not wait forever for the
> larger picture to come together, for the good of AMSAT and amateur radio. 
> A
> likelihood assessment needs to be made regularly about the "Vision Thing"
> and the will power to change directions should be found if it needs to be
> done.  We could put together a small, simple package and smaller than
> desirable antennas and give our users analog transponders on an Intelsat
> platform.   This would require large antennas on the ground and would 
> serve
> to make our current user base quite happy I am sure.   If we do this,  it
> should be the absolute dumbest, most bullet proof, impossible to destroy,
> dumber than rock, transponder without a single chance of failing in 300
> years unless the rocket blows up or it is hit by a meteor.  It would be a
> box with two connectors and a power plug going to the smallest possible
> CREDIBLE antennas.  There has been an argument that this is very 
> undesirable
> for the long term health of AMSAT, Inc.  I made the argument in the open 
> and
> have suffered regular personal threats as a result since from one very 
> angry
> disgruntled member.  I am sure it was the manner in which I presented the
> argument that caused the reaction so I am 99% to blame.
> But this is clearly outside of the vision statement of AMSAT, but it would
> be a way forward.  If we come in with very low mass, with little footprint
> and 50-100 w peak power requirements,  and we look at the matrix of costs
> Intelsat gave us,  I think we might be able to raise that amount from
> "amateur radio sources".

This idea has been floating around for some time now, but to see you suggest 
it is a powerful example of convergent thinking. I do not believe that it is 
an either/or situation. The ACP is a complex design, and developing and 
implementing it is going to be a long road, that frankly we may not have 
enough momentum to carry us down. A simple, SMALL linear transponder as you 
describe would serve as an intermediate step, allowing us to keep the 
organization alive, build the membership and hence the donation base, and 
blaze the trail to launching ACP.

One point of disagreement is that this intermediate step is, to me at least, 
clearly -inside- the mission statement, even moreso than the ACP. For those 
that have forgotten, here is the mission statement:

"AMSAT is a non-profit volunteer organization which designs, builds and 
operates experimental satellites and promotes space education. We work in 
partnership with government, industry, educational institutions and fellow 
amateur radio societies. We encourage technical and scientific innovation, 
and promote the training and development of skilled satellite and ground 
system designers and operators.

Our Vision is to deploy high earth orbit satellite systems that offer daily 
coverage by 2009 and continuous coverage by 2012. AMSAT will continue active 
participation in human space missions and support a stream of LEO satellites 
developed in cooperation with the educational community and other amateur 
satellite groups."

The intermediate step would immediately fulfill the continuous coverage part 
of the vision statement, and I think it has a much better chance of success 
by 2012, and certainly 2009, than does the ACP.

The decision to make this course correction certainly does have considerable 
benefits and risks, but I think it is one the BOD -and- the members should 
carefully consider, and if we go forward with it, the infighting and Monday 
morning quarterbacking needs to be left behind and a serious "get to the 
moon" effort be undertaken. We'll need 10 times the people soliciting 
donations as actually building the thing, but I do believe it's well within 
reason to be accomplished.

73, Drew KO4MA

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