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RE: Nominations for the AMSAT Board of Directors - REPLY -



Paul KB5MU wrote:

>It may not be widely known, but the AMSAT Board has made many
>behind-the-scenes efforts to match up corporate grants or other
>philanthropic funding sources with AMSAT needs. A volunteer with
>experience doing exactly that tackled the job just a couple of years
>ago. 

>My point is just this: if AMSAT hasn't raised a lot of money from
>outside the amateur radio community, it isn't for lack of trying. It
>will take more than the establishment of a Foundation and good
>intentions to change that. A lot more.


Where will this money come from?

Corporations are not interested in Amsat, we have nothing of value to them.
Their business models cannot support the "Amsat way" of doing things.
Businessmen are trained to value things by what they have to pay for them.
Volunteer work is worth nothing in their mind since it pays no monetary wage.
(If you think I'm wrong, try listing your Amsat activities on your resume and
see how many interviews that gets you- NONE!) To the extent that Amsat can do
things with a minimum amount of bureaucracy and paperwork, we are a threat to
the bureaucrats and the paperwork engineers who run the corporations. They
work in a top-down hierarchical structure where all wisdom flows down from on
high and people do their jobs for fear of losing them. Amsat has a bunch of
highly intelligent, independent minded, prima donnas who are about as well
organized as a heard of cats. 

The News Media is not interested. If a bunch of 20 year old college students
build a 6 inch cube sat, they get written up in the aerospace trade journals
and occasionally in the mass media. Even the amateur rocket builders are
getting some mention for their suborbital launch efforts (The news media does
not understand the difference between suborbital flights and orbital
launches.) But when Amsat launched AO-40, there was not one peep from any news
media, either the trade press or the mass media. Do a search for "Amsat" or
"AO-40" or "phase 3D" on SPACE.COM and see what comes up- NOTHING! Apparently
nobody but us thinks that it's cool that a rag tag group of nerds can build
and launch a complicated satellite.

Corporations grant money to colleges for student built satellites because they
are good public relations for the corporation and because this years students
are next years entry level engineering employees. If we were all 20 years old
and working for college credit there would be tons of corporate money
available to us, but since we are for the most part a bunch of elderly white
males there is no reason for them to support our "hobby", a hobby which is
perceived by many to be no longer relevant in the age of cell phones and the
internet. 

Philanthropic funding sources are looking for good PR by helping students and
other people in need, and we don't fit their model of "people in need". Robert
Goddard got money from a foundation for his 1930's rocket experiments because
Charles Lindbergh took notice of Goddard's work and used his fame to lobby the
wealthy foundations to support Dr Goddard. We could use a Charles Lindbergh to
do the same for us, if we had one, lacking that we will not get support from
private foundations. 
 
Space Advocacy Groups are not interested, they spend most of their time
lobbying Congress to increase NASA funding toward some day when they will be
able to homestead in space, not understanding that NASA isn't interested in
homesteading in space. The Planetary Society contracted with a factory in
Russia to build their solar sail prototype, which they are pushing to their
100,000 members as the "first space mission undertaken by a public membership
organization". The other space groupie organizations are not interested in
unmanned spacecraft of any sort. 

Most Hams are not interested in satellites, they just want their HF DX
contests. They would gladly trade away all of the UHF and microwave bands if
they could get another 40 KHz added on to the 20 meter band.

The only people in North America who give a shit about ham satellites are the
4000 members who joined Amsat. Unless there is a major shift in the Earth's
axis, any new ham satellites will be funded the same way AO-40 was- from those
4000 members pockets.

Prophets are never appreciated in their own time. Grace Hopper once said
"Don't worry about people stealing your idea, if your idea is that good you
will have to ram it down their throats". Be proud that you are one of the
4000. If Dr Goddard were alive today I'm sure he would be working with Amsat.

Dan Schultz N8FGV



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