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re: What can we do for NASA?

In the interest of stimulating further discussion/thought, here are a few
quick replies.

   Rather than using a micro- or picosat to do the inspection, why not have a
   couple of the astronauts do an EVA to do the inspection?  Certainly a
   well-trained astronaut could spot things that would be more difficult to
   spot with a camera.			      -- JReicher@hrblock.com

There are necessarily no hand-holds on the insulated side of the shuttle,
and so at present, NASA is not willing to do an EVA that could inspect
the entire shuttle.  That's a major reason they're not prepared to replace
tiles on the current shuttles.

   Your idea is intriguing (and I am a big fan of picosats) but not only do I 
   doubt you could get the resolution necessary in a picosat to do an 
   inspection from what NASA considers a "safe distance" I doubt you could get
   the data rates needed (although teh WiFi systems are intriguing).  Whats 
   worse for your idea is that NASA is never going to put a critical system in 
   the hands of anyone or group other then "professional" bird builders.
						  -- Robert Oler WB5MZO

If the microsat/picosat is not propelled, then the Shuttle is entirely in
control of kwwping safe distance.  NASA can specify a distance they'll
use and we can choose a camera lens which might generate useful results.

I don't think any amateur here wants to be involved in a mission-critical
project as an amateur!  What this project would do, would be to explore the
question of whether this approach might work.  NASA could then engineer
their own microsat to their own standards.  We don't necessarily need to
get resolution adequate for a thorough inspection.  They could then compare
what camera we used and the results we got, against the very sophisticated
cameras and stabilization systems available to them if they were to build 
such a device.

   The military has on the last GPS launch demonstrated such a system and NASA 
   is working already on a sort of "free flyer" (looks like a big basketball). 
   They would doubtless use either of those before turning to "amateur" 
   systems.					 -- Robert Oler WB5MZO

Indeed, it was "free flyer" constraints i had in mind in thinking about this.

   I can see that having a single satellite may not be effective for the same
   reasons the shuttle could not go to the ISS: Newtonian physics and the
   lack of available propellant on-orbit.           -- Chris Spacone KD6OUB

Maybe i'm confused, it would be inspecting the Shuttle, not the ISS.  It
might be good for them to have a self-propelled microsat or picosat that 
inspect the ISS, but i don't understand the physics involved.  The shuttle
would move around the microsat, not visa versa, due to safety constraints 
and what we're capable of building. 

It would not be a single satellite, it would be one-per-launch.  One, an
amateur satellite costs a lot less than the fuel to rendevous at a specific
orbit, if you were thinking it might be reuseable.  Two, there's also too 
much air/drag up there, so it would drop to an orbit unusable to another 
shuttle by the time another would be launched.  However, the orbit would 
still good for doing other experiments, relaying APRS packets, etc.

   How about this: Make a small canister that is 'let into' the side of the
   shuttle. Sort of like a sonobouy tube affair. Pack the sat into that
   tube and find some way to gently eject / launch it into a tandem orbit
   with the shuttle.			           -- Chris Spacone KD6OUB

Good thought, that might give a more predictable orbit than hand-launching
and more likely to give a better tandem orbit.

   I think your ideas are innovative but NASA is not going to go there.
						 -- Robert Oler WB5MZO

This is intended more as a thought experiment than a meaningful proposal.
The challenge i'm making, is for folks to come up with something better, 
perhaps even something we might build.  Someone else toss out some ideas.

			         -- KD6PAG

P.S.  Don't forget to delete the quoted message you're responding to, if
you're not asking people to refer to it.
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