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Half-Baked Idea?



Folks.

I've been reading about the variety of vehicles that will be visiting the
ISS to ferry crew and supplies from earth. Crew exchanges will take place
via the Space Shuttle and Soyuz vehicles. Russian Progress spacecraft,
Japanese Transfer Vehicles, and Europe's Autonomous Transfer Vehicle (ATV)
will provide resupply and reboost (and there are a LOT of them scheduled to
go).

In the case of the Progress ships, we have seen the launch, rendezvous and
docking, removal of the cargo and un-docking of the Progress which is then
slowed to allow it to burn up in the atmosphere.

In all of that, one statement seemed to stand out:

"The Progress M-1-type vehicle itself can remain in space up to 180 days.
After the spacecraft completes its mission, it will be directed toward Earth
to reenter and burn up in its atmosphere".

I have no idea how long a resupply vehicle is 'typically' allowed to remain
in orbit (after delivering it's cargo) but if it is more than 30 days then
might it provide a "host" for some simple amateur gear? Just a digipeater
doing the UI "thing" seems to be making a lot of people happy on earth these
days. AMSAT has a rich history of simple, short-lived projects (early
OSCARs) in addition to the long-life systems (AO-10).

Has anyone considered talking to the various entities providing the supply
vessels about the installation of simple amateur radio payloads?

In addition to digipeating from space, I'm certain there are all kinds of
digital experiments that could make use of an ample power supply and a
low-earth orbit for a few months. Since the equipment could be placed
onboard there would be no need for a "structure" although an external
antenna(s) might be a bit tricky. With a low cost of say $2000 to $5000 a
shot we could afford to burn up several a year for many years and still not
come close to spending what we would spend on a single satellite and LEO
launch.

Now I'm certain there's some perfectly good reason why this is a half-baked
idea but I've been thinking about it long enough that the time has come to
say it out loud and find out just how silly it really is! :-)

73 de Jeff, N9AVG





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