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the next satellite

Larry Kayser wrote:

I offer that the best way to achieve maximum participation in AMSAT is to focus on the users economics and keep the satellite a very simple device that has great reliability for the users.

Wayne replies:

I generally agree with Larry, but this is not a universally-held position among the AMSAT membership.  In particular, the greatest contributors to AMSAT (satellite designers/builders) seem to be more interested in "advancing the state of the art" than merely "reliably perpetuating prior art".  If we didn't advance we wouldn't have transponders at all.  Instead, we would have very reliable beacons transmitting di-di-di-dit di-dit.

Somewhere there is a happy medium between ease-of-use/reliability and technological advancement.  Yes, AMSAT could probably attract a LOT of new members with reliable high-orbit satellites that are usable with low-cost commercial equipment.  But that must be balanced against the existing sub-group of AMSAT members that will get bored and quit if there are no new technical challenges.  Also, keep in mind that AMSAT-NA is a non-profit EDUCATIONAL institution.  Technical advancement is one of the fundamental reasons that AMSAT exists.

I also have a philosophical objection to any belief that "technical advances up to year XXXX were great, but everything after that is bad".  In some ways we are now suffering because we did NOT adopt technical advances to improve reliability, such as forward error correction on the telemetry downlinks.

Wayne Estes W9AE
Mundelein, IL, USA
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