[amsat-bb] Re: PhoneSat Request From NPR

Jeff Yanko wb3jfs at cox.net
Thu Apr 25 21:37:30 PDT 2013

Hi Daniel,

Carmudgeon mode?  I prefer to look at it as "Truth Be Told" mode.  Either 
way, I agree with you wholeheartedly


Jeff  WB3JFS

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Daniel Schultz" <n8fgv at usa.net>
To: <amsat-bb at amsat.org>
Sent: Thursday, April 25, 2013 9:20 PM
Subject: [amsat-bb] Re: PhoneSat Request From NPR

> ------------ Original Message ------------
>>I'm a reporter with NPR who's working on a little story about some
> cell-phone
>>satellites that were recently launched into space
> (Curmudgeon  mode on!)
> 1. I tried to get NPR interested in doing a story about the launch of
> AMSAT-Phase 3D back in 2000. They did not think that a 600 kilogram 
> satellite
> with a hypergolic propulsion system, built by volunteer labor from a dozen
> different countries, financed by a multimillion dollar budget contributed 
> in
> $50 or $100 increments from hams around the world, was worth doing a story
> about, but let someone put a cell phone in a cubesat and they think that 
> is a
> big deal.
> 2. Cell phones are consumer devices, exquisitely engineered for mass
> production with reasonably high reliability at minimum per unit cost. 
> Consumer
> electronics is a highly specialized area of engineering, but so is space
> flight hardware. Using consumer electronic devices in a space flight
> environment is a misapplication of engineering principles and is destined 
> to
> be a technological dead-end. The excuse that the satellite is only 
> intended to
> last for a short time is rather lame, as is the waste of valuable launch
> vehicle capacity that could be better used by more serious missions.
> AMSAT has a dedicated team of highly competent engineers who can supply
> inexpensive computers and radios that are specifically engineered for 
> space
> flight, yet we still have cubesat groups buying off the shelf HT's and
> removing them from the plastic case for installation on their cubesat 
> because
> they just don't know any better. Apparently neither does NASA.
> 3. AMSAT-UK had two news items in the last bulletin: "PhoneSat CubeSats 
> with
> Ham Radio Payloads Launched" and "CubeSats with Ham Radio Payloads 
> Deployed"
> referring to the BeeSat and SOMP CubeSats.
> None of these satellites carry a ham radio transponder. None of them 
> support
> ham radio communications. The mere fact that a satellite transmits 
> telemetry
> on ham radio frequencies does not make it a "Ham Radio satellite". That 
> term
> should be reserved for satellites that support the purpose of amateur 
> radio,
> which is two-way communications between radio amateurs.
> NASA's own PhoneSat press release says that "These satellites were built 
> by
> NASA civil servants and contractor employees from USRA and SGT." They 
> weren't
> built by hams, and they don't serve ham radio.
> The 435 MHz band does belong to the government as the primary user, and we
> hams will have access to the band only as long as the government remains 
> as
> the primary user. If Congress orders the band to be auctioned to 
> commercial
> interests we will lose the use of it for sure. If NASA needs to use it for
> telemetry downlink because of the ease of licensing, availability of low 
> cost
> equipment from the ham radio market, and worldwide availability of hams 
> who
> may be interested in receiving and forwarding their telemetry, then go 
> ahead
> and use the amateur satellite band. Just don't call it a "Ham Radio
> satellite".
> (/Curmudgeon  mode off)
> Dan Schultz, N8FGV
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