[amsat-bb] AMSAT where are we going for what it is worth.

Andrew Glasbrenner glasbrenner at mindspring.com
Tue Jul 22 18:27:37 UTC 2014

>FOX seems to be a great answer to entry levels operators, possibly the
>majority of the operators.
>With that said, Linear Transponders like AO 7 and FO 29 at higher altitudes
>are needed.  We have lost VO 52.

As the lead AMSAT person investigating launch opportunities, and the one responsible for bringing the Fox-1C launch to fruition, I couldn't agree more. I enjoy all satellites, analog and digital, FM or SSB, and operate frequently. Having over 1,000 confirmed grid squares and nearly DXCC should prove that. I also, like Kevin, cut my teeth on RS-12, along with AO-21.

Unlike our spacecraft, AMSAT-NA does not exist in a vacuum. AMSAT-UK and -NL has been very successful and now have THREE linear transponders in orbit.  They started just a bit ahead of us on their cubesat program, and has it been a thing to behold, and learn from, as we trail a bit behind them. It seems balanced that we also have three launches to look forward to (Fox-1A, RadFXsat, and 1C), and a fourth satellite held as a "just in case" spare.

As part of the group that decided from whence we should go after ARISSat, the -UK efforts were certainly part of the equation. Both types of satellites are needed, along with digital ones as well. We chose the path that would allow easy integration with university missions for ELANA subsidized launches, in a size and expense that we thought we could afford to finance and complete in a reasonable amount of time. Balance is important.

Keep in mind the overall plan has always been that the -1 sats were to lay the groundwork for bigger and better things. We have a nearly entirely new cadre of engineers building things, and yes, relearning some lessons again, and dealing with new ones, like reduced radiation tolerances from parts so small you lose them if you exhale too hard, and difficult thermal environments. We are on the cusp of seeing all that come to fruition and moving to designing and building Fox-2 satellites. These will be SDR based linear transponders (or whatever we program them to be!, and I hope to find more interesting orbits for them.

I fully recognize that in order to reach their full potential, we also need to identify better orbits than where most of the cubesats end up. 600km is fun, but if we want to go higher again, we need to learn to work with launch providers outside of the normal channels, as paying customers. We need to navigate orbital debris rules. We need to find our way upward. The days of launching an AO-7 to 1450km circular with no propulsion and no deorbit mechanism are completely done! Our current partner offers many opportunities for higher orbits, either as deployed spacecraft or on a hosted basis. But! we have to learn to navigate this terrain, and doing so with a 1U on our back is much easier and less risk than something bigger and more complicated. 

So there is a large part of the thinking and reasoning behind Fox-1C, at least from my point of view. Obviously, I don't represent the BOD.

Fox-2 is coming. Be a part of it by joining, building, donating, promoting, operating. Stay informed, attend Symposium and Dayton, watch the presentations, make your wishes known to your elected Directors and Officers.

73, Drew KO4MA

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