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Re: [aprssig] Re: Iridium to Burn

At 10:03 AM 3/16/00 -0500, Bob Bruninga wrote:
 >On Thu, 16 Mar 2000, Jeff Davis wrote:
 > > WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iridium, a U.S. satellite telephone company
 > > operating under bankruptcy protection, is on the verge of one of the
 > > most spectacular business flameouts ever -- literally set to burn up
 > > billions of dollars' worth of Earth-orbiting assets.
 >One of the objections I have heard about my crusade to find ways to use
 >some of the AMSATS for mobile vehicle operations has been the comment "so
 >what, anyone can buy an irridium or Globalstar satellite phone".  Why do
 >we need that in HAM radio...
 >Hummh.....  What they have found is that the only people that needed
 >satellite phones are the rare-exceptions.  Most people think that we hams
 >are pretty rare and quite exceptional...or eccentric or whatever...
 >I hate to say this... but... This could be good news for AMATEUR
 >SATELLITES...  I'm sorry it comes at someone else's expense...
 >:-(  Bob

Many years ago NASA decided to get out of the space communications business 
and let the commercial folks take over. It had operated the geosynchronous 
communications relay satellite ATS-3, for instance, with its usual marching 
army of ground personnel.  It was very useful for the oceanographers in 
those days to communicate from ship to shore with free band width. Rather 
than see it abandoned, the National Science Foundation made a deal and gave 
a tiny contract to a fellow in Melbourne, Florida who then continued to 
operate the satellite, himself, from an antenna in his back yard.  He may 
still be doing it today; at least he was a couple of years ago. Since it's 
out of fuel it's no longer locked into the equator but does bow tie 
oscillations every day, giving one a chance to talk to  Antarctica about 50 
% of the time.

Now the Iridium satellites are not geosynchronous and need a tracking 
antenna of some gain to talk with.  Wouldn't it be interesting if someone 
with access to a good tracking antenna and who worked for a non-profit 
institution was to be able to operate the  Iridiums for non-competing, 
amateur use, rather than see them go down - literally - in flames...


Bob Kirk

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