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

Robert Bruninga bruninga at usna.edu
Fri Sep 4 10:07:31 PDT 2009

I can clarify this:

>> I believe that AMSAT should at least 
>> consider using the DoD Space Test 
>> Program (STP), which provides launches 
>> for satellites of interest to the US
>> federal government. 

Its not the Feds, its only DOD exclusively.  Not even NASA can
participate in STP.  We have been briefing the STP for a decade
now, and are very familiar with the process.  And it is not even
close to "open to all".

It is a Department of Defense program that priortizes DOD
payloads.  Nothing else.  And the number one selection criteria
is "DOD Relevance".

>> In fact, the STP has already launched a 
>> number of amateur satellites.  

Sort-of. The Naval Academy and NRL have gotten a few rides to
space, but not because they met STP criteria.  Our only DOD
relevance is "space education" and even that is evaluated dead
last (65 out of 65)...  Our rides were mostly out of back door
luck.  It only works if someone is on the inside, and a lucky
opportunity is found(see below).

>> But, in order to get the government to 
>> pay, we need to tell a story that the 
>> government is interested in. 
>> o Projects that develop the next 
>> generation of space scientists/engineers.

Our briefs are exactly on that basis and we are always evaluated
dead last.

>> o Research projects.  ...
>> o [emergency comms] ... I don't believe 
>> that the fed... is likely to fund us 
>> primarily to provide emergency comms.  
>> There are simply too many other 
>> alternatives available today...

True, except, they all need infrastructure and investment, and
they all want hundreds of megabits per second all the time! From
anywhere anytime...  They kill any modest idea with chrushing
requirements creep.

Once, when explaining this crushing demand which dooms almost
every simple solution, I did get a great comment in support of
the KISS principle from the skipper of a Nuclear Sub.  While
describing my attempts to get the 145.825 MHz Packet digipeater
satellites operating at 1200 baud to support HT and Mobile
amateur radio emergency text messaging (APRS), his comment was
something like this:..

"1200 baud?  Great!  When my sub has NO COMMS AT ALL, a 1200
baud CHAT channel sounds FANTASTIC!"...

And look at the popularity of text messaging, IM, Twitter, etc.
A lot can be said in a few dozen bytes.  We should concentrate
on the KISS principle...

>> 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. 

Yes!  And most of the time when I meet these students at
conferences, etc, they are not hams and have no idea what the
amateur radio hobby is about, and so they are not like us,
focused on the comms, but instead are focused on something else.
My comments about getting a launch through STP may sound
negative, but they are not.  They are simply saying that the way
through STP has to be at the backdoor, through the STUDENTS and
the UNIVERSITIES. That is where we are failing to make the
contacts and mentoring them through the joy of communictions as
an end in itself.

If they WANT to communicate and let others communicate, then
they WILL find a way to wriggle it on board as part of their
"research" and their "education"...  And I can think of no
better proponents for modest data-rate TEXT MESSAGING, then the
teens and 20-somethings that live and breath it.

See my article on Universal HAM Radio Text Messaging in the Sept
QST. And or this web page: www.aprs.org/aprs-messaging.html

Anyway, we need to mentor the students (or anyone else that has
backdoor access to potential projects that might fly).  A modern
amateur radio transponder can be the size of a pack of cigaretts
and can fit on just about anyone else's ride...

Bob, Wb4APR

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