850 Sligo Ave. Suite 600
Silver Spring, MD 20910
fahnen/10.jpg AMSAT Website Construction
Launch Pad Return

Some FAQs About the Launch Pad


We thank all the people who contributed hours of testing, support and design talent so we can acknowledge their participation in bringing the new website online

Rick Hambly W2GPS
Coordination, Project Lead, BOD Interface and Encouragement
Emily Clarke, W0EEC:
Concept Design and Site Developer
Paul Williamson, KB5MU:
Technical Assistance, Server Support and Review
Brian Kantor, WB6CYT Server Administration and Support
Eric Christensen, KF4OTN:
Super Tester and Advocate
Bill Greene, VE7WFG:
Super Tester, Advocate, and Encouragement
Howard Stephensen, K6IA:
Will Marchant KC6ROL:
Contributor and Review
Dick Daniels, W4PUJ: Photography and Support
Robin Haighton, VE3FRH: Organizational Leadership and Support

Statistics and Process

The new look and feel.of the AMSAT website started out as a prototype proposal made to the AMSAT management in November of 2003. After initial discussions, the site underwent several design prototypes before the design you see today is the final result of that process.

Some statistics:

Number of new or modified main pages: > 400 (at the time of authoring this page)
Number of new images and icons: > 300
Number of converted archive pages: > 975
Number of banners (top banners): Currently 12 (Please Contribute!)

Other process information:

  • The site is a fusion of LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySql and PHP) components, all of which are open source. To learn more about open source and how it benefits consumers, see The Open Source Initiative website.
  • Adobe GoLive was used to develop the prototypes and templates
  • After the templates were developed, most other coding was done by hand
  • Adobe Photoshop was used to develop the banners and other graphics
  • There is one master CSS file that was coded by hand
  • To insure quality and consistency, there are two master include files (one for the header and one for the footer) that manage all the window dressing (things outside the main panel.)

Other Q&A

Q: Why are the pages PHP?

PHP is an open source pre-processor for HTML and is one of the most popular programming platforms on the web. It is used to make sure we can process things in a safe server enviroment before the HTML is delivered to your web browser. If you "View/Source" you will only see only HTML (with a minimal amount of Javascript.) That is so all the processing is done in a secure environment.

Q: Does PHP have viruses:

No - PHP is not installed on your local computer. It has no runtime libraries that need to be installed on your computer nor does it try to reprogram your computer. It only executes on the server. This way we can make sure we never download executable code such as VBX objects or JAVA applets that execute on your computer.

Q: Is PHP secure?

Yes - although no software can guarantee 100% safety, PHP only runs on the server, so your computer is never executing PHP code. We make every attempt to make sure any PHP security patches are installed.

Q: Why do I see a ?SESSPHP= on the URL

In some cases PHP needs to keep track of the session number. Since don't use cookies or other things to track you, PHP seems to append this to the URL in some cases, with some browsers. We are working on eliminating it.

Q: Speaking of cookies - what's the story there?

We don't use them. If you get a request for a cookie, let us know using either the bug form or the contact page. We've tried to eliminate them completely. You should never get a cookie from AMSAT.ORG.

Q: What about popup windows?

We don't use popup windows in the site though we may launch sites outside AMSAT.ORG in a new window to let you know you have left our site with one exception. The Bug Report form is a popup so you can fill in the form without losing your place in the site.

There are certainly no commercial popups allowed anywhere. If you see a commercial popup, it probably came from another site that you visited before you came to AMSAT.ORG. Please let us know about this occurance because such a popup would violate our Privacy Policy. Please let us know where you came from so we can investigate.

Q: What personal information do you collect?

None. We have a strict policy against it and won't use your information for any "for sale" purpose. We may ask for information like an email address or name, but never post it on the site without your permission. If you see an instance of this happening, please contact us.

Q: Can I use the site if I am not an AMSAT member?

Yes! Non-members are always welcome and encouraged to visit the site. You can always use the general use areas of the site and we encourage you to do so and invite friends. And of course it goes without saying that if you aren't a member we would like you to join.

There is/will be a member's only area, and will possibly be some services reserved for members, but our intention is to be open to everyone to the greatest degree possible.

Q: Is the site child/family friendly?

Yes, the site is as child friendly as possible and we do not market to children. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.

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