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Re: Atlas 5 Test Flight



There may be an excess of commercial launch capacity, but this does not
necessarily translate into abundant free rides for amateurs. It is true
that if we were willing and able to pay a few hundred million dollars,
they could easily find us a quick ride. As secondary passengers we must
wait for a primary customer who is willing to share the ride with us.
The launch agencies are not going to be launching empty rockets because
they can't find paying customers. Airlines may do this, the plane leaves
on schedule even if seats are empty, but rockets don't follow a fixed
flight schedule.

There are also a great many technical hurdles to overcome in certifying
that an amateur payload will not pose a
threat to the primary mission. The payload must be tested to certify its
compatibility and safety and someone from the launch authority must
review our paperwork and sign off on it. This costs money and adds
little to the bottom line of the launch company. This is not the same
thing as asking the gate agent if you can have that empty seat on a
plane that is about to leave the gate. You won't get a launch by asking
nicely "Could we please bolt our little satellite onto your rocket, it
won't get in your way."

Initial launches of a new rocket such as Wednesday's Atlas 4 are a
nail-biting  experience for the employees and management of the company.
They are very nervous about putting on a good performance. Often the
future of the company is on the line. They are quite reluctant to add
additional technical risk by carrying secondary payloads, especially a
payload that carries a propulsion system. Almost any launch to
Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit will leave you in an orbit with a very low
perigee, such that you will need to do additional propulsion burns to
get to a safe and stable orbit.

So far as I know, the new models of the Atlas and Delta launch vehicles
do not have secondary payload arrangements similar to the Ariane ASAP
ring or the Specific Bearing Structure that Amsat developed for the
Phase 3D launch and turned over to Arianespace. It is possible that we
might be able to ask these companies if they would be interested in
developing a secondary payload capability.

The bottom line is that getting a launch requires us to earn the trust
and respect of the launch authority. Amsat enjoys such a relationship
with Ariane. So far we have not developed such a relationship with other
launch vehicle owners. It might be possible to develop such a
relationship but that will require delicate behind the scenes
negotiations and "schmoozing".

Dan Schultz N8FGV

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>Date: Thu, 22 Aug 2002 11:48:27 +0000
>From: "David A. Minster" <dminster@optonline.net>
>Subject: Re: [amsat-bb] Atlas 5 Test Flight

>So if I read this article correctly, there is absolutely no reason for
>hearing that it will take years to get a ride into space for our
upcoming
>projects. In fact, the quotes are starting to sound like the airlines
>describing the NY to DC shuttle flights - over capacity and few
riders...

>David, NA2AA

>http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2207633.stm

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