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What should a satellite accomplish?

>From: "Larry Kayser" <kayser@sympatico.ca>
>To: <amsat-bb@AMSAT.Org>, "Robert Oler" <cvn65vf94@msn.com>
>Subject: Discussion Level, Jon Ogden
>Date: Fri, 1 Jun 2001 13:58:30 -0400
>Dear Robert Oler:
>The discussion on the next AMSAT satellite project that I initiated
>yesterday has brought forth a number of replies from one Jan Ogden.  These
>replies contain rhetoric and invective of a personal nature that are not
>consistent with the goals...... for the debate will
>continue, your participation is valued and rest assured welcome.

Howdy Larry.  I changed the title of the thread but thank you for your 
comments.  A long time ago I learned to "live" with people who have little 
room for others opinion QUITE sure that they are right and unable to have a 
discussion based on the give and take of ideas...

Anyway to advance some of my own.

What should a satellite accomplish?

I think five things.

The first is that it should advance the ART of communications.  Notice I 
said communications not technology solely.  We are as a hobby part and 
parcel of the technology but the goal of the technology is to provide 
alternate and usable communications media to what can be found otherwise.  
There are a whole range of these activites; from small antennas to the APRS 
stuff thats going on.

The second is to advance the state of the technical art in the hobby.  It is 
important to recognize that there are varying amateurs at various states of 
the technical art.  I've spent the weekend gluing together a 10ghz link to 
whats going to become the "big dish" transmitter site and I enjoy nothing 
better then design and building.  Having said that the first step for "most" 
amateurs is merely to make various boxes play with each other and learning 
how to operate them.  From that the next step is usually the modification of 
boxes and the third is the building of them.  Read this BBS for not to long 
and you see all three steps at work.  BUT the guy who is learning to 
interface his rotor with the computer is advancing the state of his 
technical art as much as the gal who is homebrewing the 2 ghz preamp.

The third however is just as important...and that is to create an industry 
that is tailored and supportive of the amateur satellite community.  If 
there is not an industry that is tailored to the birds then its going to be 
hard to have the first step in the second part of this (the above paragraph) 
to intice newcomers into the birds.  (I would add that a strong industry is 
what in the end keeps the bands to...if ham radio were a big money maker 
then the Kenwoods,etc would lobby as hard as the ARRL does to keep the 

These are sort of the "TRIAD" as I see them of ham radio and amateur 
satellites in particular.  And while it might be argued that a supersat like 
AO-40 does all of them in reality I think that a "big" sat fails on several 
key points...all of which AO-40 illustrates.

Had AO-40 died on the launch pad, if it dies tomorrow then the amateur radio 
community is "out" of the high altitude birds (except for a very sick AO-10) 
for the forseable future.  Its as simple as that.  We have everey single 
solitary egg in one basket and for instance no manufactor is going to start 
a line of radios etc that are specifically geared for AO-40 based on the 
fact that the design is toast if it (the bird) goes away.

Now I think that the high altitude orbit that the bird is in IS A GOOD ONE 
and I would push the modes to the higher microwave bands.  But statements 
like "its only human error that prevented this bird from being a super star" 
are to my mind sadly off the point.  The nature of spaceflight is that 
things can die very easily.  If we find out that the momenteumn wheels dont 
work or the solar arrays wont deply then the bird is only not a failure 
because it works better then AO-10 and that doesnt say a lot.

My argument would be for a lot of smaller satellites, perhaps REQUIRING 
ABOUT THE EARTH STATION components that AO-40 NEEDS NOW...not what it was 
"suppose to be".  And if we accept that as the given baseline then the bird 
gets a lot smaller a lot less complicated (no deployable solar arrays for 
instance) and gets a LOT CHEAPER.

In  the end if we ignore the triad I mentioned above the amateur radio 
satellites will not be any more safe in terms of their future then say the 
vhf bands in general.

Again I enjoy the pleasant tone of the debate.  Thats what it is...a debate 
of ideas...the concept of fear is when one is unable to offer ideas but 
instead substitutes rhetoric..

Robert Oler WB5MZO
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