[amsat-bb] Re: High orbit satellites?

Brenton Salmi kb1lqd at gmail.com
Sat Aug 31 13:44:00 PDT 2013

I think this 2-part 4 minute video is very relevant here:

*Building a SpaceCraft*
Although less bureaucratic companies/organizations will widdle down this
process considerably it still holds true. Once that rocket launches there
is no turning back, Year's of peoples lives goes into making the several
minutes of reaching orbit actually work and not kill your spacecraft. Each
part on a spacecraft needs to be designed correctly, tested to operate
correctly, tested to operate in all expected conditions (vibrations,
temperature, radiation, etc...) without any physical maintenance.

Funcube vibration testing: http://vimeo.com/26954073

Getting to orbit is a very difficult process, in-fact the first seconds of
the launch is very very violent and has a high potential to destroy
satellites on-board. Vibrations due to the ground reflections will
potentially rip components right off the PCB, unscrew bolts/connectors...
I've seen this happen in testing and when it does it's time to go back to
the drawing board and re-layout your board or parts to dampen/strengthen
it. All electronics need to survive the lack of air convection taking heat
away from hot things (think amplifiers...) as well as survive incredibly
cold temperatures, temperatures in space do not change slowly, they will
crack PCB's, components, etc... All spacecraft need to be qualified for
flight to ensure the $100,000's (if not hundreds of millions) of dollars
and years of people's efforts are not doomed from the beginning, many
launch providers require these specifications to be met even to fly on
board their rockets.

*Getting to Orbit - And Surviving*
Getting to HEO is also another challenge since we must travel through the
van-allen belts, and survive the long-term exposure of higher radiation.
That nice micro-controller that works well on earth or in LEO now has bit's
flip, gates short, and other analog components dies a slow but steady death
as well in this radiation environment. All of this needs to be ensured to

For the launch itself, there are many more players in the market and many
(schools...) that are willing to shell out several million easy. If you're
on-board a HEO launch your likely going to be going under very strict
guidelines and you must prove that you won't hurt the main satellite
through rigorous documentation and testing.  I'm not say that this is
unfeasible as we've done this in the past but getting a LEO bird up is
considerably easier and cheaper as compared to a HEO.

I also want to say that the cubesat standard is a wonderful thing, cubesat
electronics are getting better, more reliable, and are increasing their
functional density which means we can do more with less space/weight! The
modular systems of cubesats also pave the way for *faster builds and
cheaper R&D in the long run!* Standardizing radio/power/control systems
into modular boards means we can optimize, upgrade, and reused designs
quickly and focus on the bigger better things in years to come. Building a
solid LEO cubesat base is very important for this very reason as we can
learn to use the platform and avoid re-designing the wheel in years to
come. Fox-1 is that stepping stone for us and Fox-2 will provide the
continuing efforts to make larger, better, and more capable spacecraft!
Each Fox satellite specifically improves on the previous design and when we
get a solid and reliable system that can scale to large cubesats (6U) we
will have a reliable bird in the sky with incredible functionality.

*Utilizing Our SAT's - SDR's*
I think it's also a good time to think about utilizing our LEO birds for
not just voice communications but for data (both communication and
sensors/cameras) which current technology makes much easier. With
additional help to the effort I don't see why a simple and cheap ground
station set-up can't be developed and sold that directly increases the
ability for people to use our satellites. Think FUNcube(
http://www.funcubedongle.com/), what better way to increase access and
abilities than a cheap and somewhat dedicated ground system? If we're
always limited to 1200 baud through an HT or multi-band radio we'll never
explore other technologies. SDR's are cheap nowadays and offer the ability
to directly downlink voice and data flexibly.

Anyways, that's my 2 cents! I welcome all of you to help volunteer even if
you've never been involved in the aerospace industry! From managing, to
public appearance, to engineering AMSAT is always looking for help and it's
a great way to give back to the hobby that all of us love. This hobby was a
large factor in my career choice and AMSAT satellites were a big draw for
me. *Most of my other college peers and even young co-workers love what
AMSAT stands for* and how we do it! The more excited and cooperative
everyone is the more people will get on-board. I know ton's of people
(technical and not) that are incredibly interested in what AMSAT is doing
and just need a push to jump in.


Brent, KB1LQD

On Sat, Aug 31, 2013 at 8:23 AM, Alan <wa4sca at gmail.com> wrote:

> Rick,
> I have a "back pocket" slide for my presentation when someone asks about
> P3.  It is titled "The Future
> Isn't What It Used to Be!" which walks through the technical and financial
> changes which have required
> the paradigm shift.
> 73s,
> Alan
> -----Original Message-----
> From: amsat-bb-bounces at amsat.org [mailto:amsat-bb-bounces at amsat.org] On
> Behalf Of Rick Tejera
> Sent: Friday, August 30, 2013 5:14 PM
> To: 'amsat-bb'
> Subject: [amsat-bb] Re: High orbit satellites?
> Andrew,
>  I for one do appreciate the work the board and other volunteers do. It's
> certainly something I'm far from qualified to do and to be honest, I
> probably would not want to.
> I came into the hobby long after the HEO era ended, so I can only live
> vicariously through others recollections and hope "Someday"
> That being said I also can see there is a new launch paradigm and we have
> to
> adjust to it. I commend the board for accepting this and doing what they
> can
> to adapt to the new reality.
> I imagine the engineering obstacles to get a 3u Cubesat that would be
> viable
> in HEO are many, which most likely put that well into the future.
> When I give my talk on Satellite engineering principles to local clubs, the
> most common question I get asked is "When are we going to get an HEO?" My
> Answer is Not for a long time.
> 73 and looking forward to Fox..
> Rick Tejera (K7TEJ)
> Saguaro Astronomy Club
> www.saguaroastro.org
> Thunderbird Amateur Radio Club
> www.w7tbc.org
> -----Original Message-----
> From: amsat-bb-bounces at amsat.org [mailto:amsat-bb-bounces at amsat.org] On
> Behalf Of Andrew Glasbrenner
> Sent: Friday, August 30, 2013 7:22 AM
> To: Jeff Moore; amsat-bb
> Subject: [amsat-bb] Re: High orbit satellites?
> >On 8/30/2013 1:25 AM, Jeff Moore wrote:
> >> How about hitting up the new COMMERCIAL launchers like SpaceX??
> >> Those guys originated as amateur rocketeers.
> I would hope that folks have a little more faith in AMSAT leadership as far
> as exploring opportunities for launches, even if you don't read about every
> contact or discussion in ANS or QST.
> SpaceX is Elon Musk's company, who founded PayPal and Tesla Motors as well.
> He's not an amateur anything; he's one of the most successful businessmen
> in
> the world, a real-life Tony Stark. AMSAT-DL has met with Space-X, and this
> fact has been published in many places
> (http://amsat.org/pipermail/ans/2010/000378.html). SpaceX rarely launches
> pure test flights, they normally have paying customers even on first
> launches. Secondary payloads are handled through Spaceflight Services, and
> their rates are published at http://spaceflightservices.com/pricing-plans/.
> Fifty kg, or about half of what Eagle would have been, to GTO would cost 3
> million dollars. Hey! that's only like $1000 per member! P3E, at 150kg,
> would be closer to 8 million, IF it could be made to fit the space
> available, and most likely mounted and launched sideways.
> Opportunities may still be out there to go to HEO, but it's a fairy tale to
> think that all we have to do is knock on the door and ask. It is also
> disheartening to see that so many just assume that we aren't trying.
> 73, Drew KO4MA
> _______________________________________________
> Sent via AMSAT-BB at amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
> Not an AMSAT-NA member? Join now to support the amateur satellite program!
> Subscription settings: http://amsat.org/mailman/listinfo/amsat-bb
> _______________________________________________
> Sent via AMSAT-BB at amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
> Not an AMSAT-NA member? Join now to support the amateur satellite program!
> Subscription settings: http://amsat.org/mailman/listinfo/amsat-bb
> _______________________________________________
> Sent via AMSAT-BB at amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
> Not an AMSAT-NA member? Join now to support the amateur satellite program!
> Subscription settings: http://amsat.org/mailman/listinfo/amsat-bb

More information about the AMSAT-BB mailing list