[amsat-bb] Re: Trolls on the -bb

Timothy J. Salo salo at saloits.com
Thu Sep 3 12:45:47 PDT 2009

John B. Stephensen wrote:
> P3E is a HEO with the same engine as P3D and no benefactor funding a launch. 
> It seems more reasonable to focus on projects that we can pay to launch or 
> where someone has already donated the launch.

I believe that AMSAT should at least consider using the DoD
Space Test Program (STP), which provides launches for satellites
of interest to the federal government.  In fact, the STP has
already launched a number of amateur satellites.  Of course, HEO
launches will still be hard to come by.  But, I think it is
pretty clear that amateurs can't afford an HEO launch, so we
ought to at least try to find someone else to pay for it.

But, in order to get the government to pay, we need to tell
a story that the government is interested in.  In my view,
the federal government is most likely to fund at least two
types of projects:

o Projects that develop the next generation of space
   scientists and engineers.  (This is a large part of the
   reason NASA funds ARISS and SAREX activities.  I think
   this is also why the Naval Academy stuff gets launched.)

o Research projects.  Note that AO-40 actually flew a NASA
   GPS experiment that resulted in at least one journal
   article.  Unfortunately, no one seems to want to talk
   about research experiments that have flown on, and often
   subsidized, amateur satellites (much less display this
   information prominently on the AMSAT Web pages).

Perhaps more importantly, I don't believe that the federal
government is likely to fund us primarily to provide
emergency communications.  There are simply too many other
alternatives available today: satellite phones,
cellular-base-stations-on-a-truck, and lots of fixed and
portable satellite ground stations.

If you have an interest in this topic, you might want to read
my DoD Space Test Program paper.  (Unlike most AMSAT Symposium
presentations, it is available on the Internet.  But, that is
another difficult topic for AMSAT...)

But, to be able to successfully tell these stories, AMSAT
needs to attract new classes of members, particularly
today's and tomorrow's engineers, scientists, and technically
curious.  And, to attract these new classes of members, I
believe that AMSAT will need to update some of its views.
The Web is vitally important: it is probably the dominant
portion of AMSAT's public face seen by prospective members
and prospective funding agencies.  For example, all the
excellent material published in the Journal would benefit
AMSAT much more if it was available on the Web.

By the way, the AFRL University Nanosatellite Program (UNP)
Web site [!] says that 3,500 students have participated in
the program over the last decade.  Every one of these
young people has a demonstrated interest in building satellites.
AMSAT ought to consider every one of them a prospective member
and volunteer.

(I also believe that many of these types of prospective
members that AMSAT needs in order to be successful expect
a voluntary organization like AMSAT to operate transparently,
and for its directors and officers to be able to discuss the
organization in public in a professional manner.  Does
anyone else think that it is ironic that discussions about
the future of AMSAT are categorized under "troll"?)


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