[amsat-bb] Re: All Satellites

Bruce Robertson ve9qrp at gmail.com
Fri Sep 25 22:46:55 PDT 2009

On Sat, Sep 26, 2009 at 2:03 AM, Rocky Jones <orbitjet at hotmail.com> wrote:
>> Finally, a truism that probably bears repeating, though not addressing
>> the two comments quoted above: if we call cubesats 'not amateur
>> radio', then we should tar OSCAR 1 with that same brush.
>> 73, Bruce
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> Bruce...that is really not fair.

I'm sorry if I'm not being fair. I rather think, though, that there is
an important difference of opinion here on what constitutes amateur
activity. I'd like to explore it further with your permission.

> Oscar 1 (and 2) were "first time" for a lot of things and had at their heart
> the goal of building amateur radio communications platforms...that is why
> Oscar "X" (I think that is what they call it...a repeat of Oscar 1 and 2)
> was shelved in favor of Oscar III a communications platform.

If you are advocating a litmus test for amateur activity, especially
in the satellite field, that is based on novelty, then I cannot see
how you are not equally opposed to those aspects of P3E that are
self-consciously emulating previous satellites (everything other than
SDX and CAN-DO?)

In fact, in common practice innovation is too high a bar to set for
amateur activity: we don't expect each ham to invent a new modulation
scheme before getting on a local repeater for the first time; and I
know that when and if a HEO satellite is in orbit again, you will not
deprecate my enjoyment of following in the footsteps of many before me
who have undertaken linear transponder communications on that

I will meet you half way and say that innovation is a hallmark of
amateur satellite operations, though not a requirement. This is why I
am very excited by upcoming tests of SDX. It is also, incidentally,
why I applaud the achievements of the cubesat groups, whose very
form-factor is innovative, and who undertake innovative applications,
such as spacecraft stabilization for potential experiments in
formation flying, high-quality image capture, new communication modes,
physics experiments, etc., a list that reads much like the one you
apply to Oscar V below:

> Both Oscar 1 and II lasted until their batteries ran out...indeed I think
> Number 1 lasted until it decayed..Oscar V tested communications technology
> from spacecraft stabilization to command systems etc. and it lasted until
> its batteries ran out

I can't tell here: are you suggesting that battery-operated satellites
are more in the amateur spirit?  Doesn't this contravene your
innovation criterion? Were not batteries in Oscar 1-5 faute de mieux?
You seem to be implying that the Oscar 1 designers eschewed the solar
panels available to them and wisely chose the limited lifetime option.
My understanding of the history of technology is somewhat hazy, but as
it is, it doesn't fit this picture.

> .that is far longer sat life then most of the cubesats have.  which mostly
> have nothing to do with amateur radio

In your opinion, is short life a knock against cubesats? Maybe it's a
good idea to have shorter missions in some cases. Short life is not
always true, of course: CO-57, e.g., has been in operation for over
six years.

73, Bruce

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