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AO-40 -- Thanks!



As the reports of AO-40 transponder success roll in from around the world I
can't help but think back over all that's transpired with this project. The
fund raising, the integration facility in Orlando, the difficulties getting
a launch and then the collective gasp as the first Ariane 5 launch blew up
(how lucky were we not to be on that one?). And, sadly, we probably all know
at least one person who contributed to the project yet didn't live to see it
launched...

When you think about it, ours is a strange facet of the amateur radio
service. We dream big, build small and cross a lot of fingers. Sometimes
things go well and sometimes they don't. Such is the nature of the launch
business. It's risk-filled and not everyone is well suited for it.

When you build a satellite on your kitchen table and set it atop a huge
firecracker things can go wrong. Over the last year I've been privileged to
correspond with some of the sharpest minds in the world of amateur
satellites and I've learned something--these folks aren't really 'amateurs'
when it comes to this kind of engineering. It's much more science than
fiction and while they can squeeze a dime for all it's worth (who would have
believed that a steel tape measure could become an easily deployed
omnidirectional antenna?) the systems are well designed and employ a level
of redundancy that would make NASA proud.

That's why AO-40 could have experienced a cataclysmic event and yet still
prove operational. It's the same reason that AO-10 has been brain-dead for
years and yet the 'body' doesn't know enough to quit working. This level of
success against all odds is a tribute to those who design and build amateur
satellites. And despite those long odds, it's beginning to look as though
AO-40 is going to make an awful lot of people smile.

My champagne glass is raised to all those around the world who worked night
and day without pay to take us from a dream to reality!


Vy 73 de Jeff, N9AVG


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