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Re: microsats & cubesats



James,
All amateur radio satellites ever launched were designated "secondary 
payloads". Such payloads essentially use some unused capability left in 
the launch vehicle to hitch a ride to space. As a secondary payload, you 
cannot drive requirement, and you are expected to meet all of the 
requirements of the primary payload and the launch vehicle provider. The 
primary customer always has final say on whether you go or not.
Paying for launch is another issue. In the 50-80s such slots were 
obtained using "connections" in the right places since microsats were 
not considered viable spacecraft. Ever since the early 80s, small 
satellite became viable spacecraft, and thus, launch providers began to 
charge money for such launch opportunities. Since hams were a major 
contributor to the change in perception towards small satellite, we 
essentially locked ourselves out of those spots (catch 22).
At present, it is very difficult to find a free launch. It is easier to 
find a "sponsored" launch with an organization which has an interest in 
a payload, and we as hams can help them. In the past, I was involved in 
a launch off of an untried Russian candle (which went in the drink), a 
launch off an untried USAF rocket (which got there), and recently a 
sponsored USAF shuttle launch. Just in case the though runs across your 
mind - forget about an amateur initiative deploying a satellite off the 
shuttle - they don't just take you along.
Over the past several months, a few of us have been looking as finding 
an opportunity for a new project, and the prospects out there are very 
slim....so if you hear of a candle... let everyone know :)
Assi 4x1kx/kk7kx



James Sharp wrote:

>I keep seeing all these people building microsats and cubesats for school
>engineering projects and I wonder to myself...would it be practical for an
>individual or small group of non-education affiliated (just basically a
>group of really bored ham geeks) to build their own microsat for
>launch.
>
>And what are people doing for launches?  Are they riding piggyback on
>other launches or is there some company basically giving away rides into
>orbit?
>
>I just think it would be pretty cool to have someone listen to a downlink
>and think "Hey, that me & my two buds put up".  Pipe dream? Maybe...just a
>thought.
>
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