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Echo vs. Eagle Discussion

I'm glad to see a discussion of AMSAT priorities going on here for the
first time. Now, if we could just get a small portion of the authors to
show up for Board of Directors meetings, representation of the desires
of satellite operators would be a lot easier to keep front-and-center of
AMSAT policy setters. Far too many policy decisions are made by the BOD
with not a single AMSAT-NA member (meaning non-BOD) present. 
As an existing BOD Member/Alternate and candidate for re-election, I'd
like to wade into this discussion regarding Echo vs. Eagle priorities.
First, the biggest cash donation I made to AMSAT in 2002 was dedicated
to the Eagle Project. I will continue to support Eagle with hard-earned
dollars. I've worked quite a few of you on AO-40, and enjoy the high
orbit, all-mode design. However, as hard as it was to accept at the
time, I agreed with the decision to focus on completing Echo before
wading into a campaign for funding, designing, and building Eagle. Here
is a quick review of the justification for that decision from my point
of view:
 - Echo is a short cycle project while Eagle is long cycle. We <know>
that Eagle will fill needs we have now, and will continue to need for
the near term. Low and high speed digital, FM bent pipe,
store-and-forward messaging, and a platform to test TDMA voice are
capabilities that were easy to agree will foster growth for us in the
next 5 years. Eagle's long cycle project combined with its existing
design puts us in the position of much of its functionality being
duplication of other missions currently under design and construction.
 - Echo represents a diversification of <who> builds AMSAT-NA's
satellites. This is my reason; not one widely held in the BOD. I am
constantly alarmed by the lack of new faces contributing time and
attention to the technical side of our organization. Echo is helping in
that respect. Not nearly enough, but it is a start. 
To conclude, I am <so> happy to see new interest in serving on the BOD.
One and all are capable and competent to serve. I would caution against
anyone viewing their role as a potential BOD member as a one-issue
candidate or with a personal mission to flatly change our priorities
based on the most recent fad train-of-thought discussion. 
Somebody said on AMSAT-BB recently that these are tough times, and we
need tough (and thoughtful) leaders. We have <many> challenges in front
of us, and we need to consider their interaction before stomping off in
a rash move. 
I welcome any and all correspondence. Feel free to message me directly
if you have side questions.
Steve Diggs, W4EPI

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