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ARISS--The Budget

The ARISS Budget

Details of the ARISS budget are in the March/April 2003 Journal.  All 
AMSAT-NA members should have gotten the journal (hint--see one of the 
benefits of membership).  The ARISS Budget discussion of the Board of 
Directors meeting is located on page 22 of this edition of the Journal.  In 
it, I state that NASA has contributed approximately $150,000 in real 
dollars last year for ARISS related activities.  The bulk of this funding 
goes to getting the internationally-based amateur radio hardware safety 
certified to fly on the Shuttle and the ISS.  It also funded a portion of 
the development hardware, particularly the antenna systems, and the 
development of some educational and outreach materials that the team is 
using to promote the program.

AMSAT-NA has contributed approximately $34,000 last year to the 
program.  The bulk of this ($18,000) was for travel.  Since this is an 
international effort, face-to-face coordination is a must.  The ARISS team 
had 2 international meetings in 2002 and we supported a very important trip 
to Russia.  We also had several travel trips to NASA Johnson Space Center 
to support several mission-critical activities.  The other big item in the 
budget is components---i.e. hardware development--about $6,000 last 
year.  Please read the January/February 2003 Journal to see what we did 
last year.  We did a *lot* last year.  This included the delivery of the 4 
antenna systems, supporting 3 EVAs (Spacewalks), the IMAX Film debut, many 
school group contacts, and a balanced ham radio program.   Another big 
portion of this budget includes the cost of the lab in Orlando.  The rent 
and insurance/liability costs for this last year was approximately 
$7,000.  While the ARISS team derives very limited value of this lab, it is 
being book-kept under the human spaceflight budget.  Really Eagle stands to 
benefit most from this facility despite that fact that it is in the ARISS 

The ARISS budget has been significantly slashed this past year.  Most all 
of our component budget has been slashed.  We have asked the international 
community to cut out 1 international meeting this year (3 meetings every 2 
years instead of 4).   I think Martha has given you the numbers for the 
current spending.  They are significantly lower than last year.  Also, the 
AMSAT BoD has also worked with the ARRL to get additional cost sharing of 
some of the ARISS travel trips.  For example, the half the travel costs of 
the AMSAT volunteers going to the recent meeting in Houston will be paid 
for by the ARRL.

The other item that was discussed in the board meeting (and the journal 
article) that should be addressed here is my assessment of the world-wide 
amateur radio volunteer support to ARISS.  I stated that the amateur radio 
community is contributing approximately $5 million towards the ARISS 
program.  This contribution assessment is not real dollars, but the 
volunteer time and talent contributions that the international community 
invests into ARISS.  The space agencies look to metrics (measurements) to 
understand how a program is performing.  One metric that they look at is 
the investment made by the partners in an activity.  We have a real-dollar 
investment and we have a volunteer time and talent contribution to the 
program.  How did I reach this $5 million contribution investment?  I 
estimated the number of hours spent by the international team to perform 
its duties and used standard aerospace cost estimation numbers to reach the 
numbers above.  We have a number of countries involved in ARISS.  We have 
had to develop a lot of hardware (flight, flight backup, training, 
etc).  Performing school contacts requires a big, local team that works 
together for weeks to make the contact a success and to make it meaningful 
from an Educational perspective.  We have large team that are working with 
the space agencies to schedule these contacts and to coordinate with the 
local school volunteers.  We have several weekly international 
teleconferences to make sure the program is on-track and moving 
forward.  As you can see, there is a lot going on internationally.  When 
AMSAT or universities quote a satellite development cost, they never 
include the  equivalent volunteer time contribution.  They don't have to 
because they are not a partner with the space agencies in a program like 

Another piece to this budget puzzle is the in-kind contributions that the 
international space agencies are providing to ARISS.  I will start with the 
Russian contribution first because right now they are providing the biggest 
in-kind contribution.  The current amateur radio station is located in the 
Russian segment.  They have provided space in their vehicle.  They have 
provided the feedthroughs.  I am told by my Russian colleagues that the 
in-kind costs for these feedthroughs are in the millions of dollars.  The 
Russians have provided EVA training and set aside big portions of 3 
spacewalks to install our four antennas on the outside of the Service 
Module.  I am told that each of these EVAs cost the Russians about $1 
million a piece.  They have launched equipment on 1 Progress transfer 
vehicle with 2 more planned for this year.  On the US side, the bulk of the 
ARISS hardware has been flown on the Space Shuttle on three separate 
flights.  Each of the four antennas flown are much bigger is size and mass 
than Echo, FYI.  The rest of the current radio hardware could fit in a very 
large briefcase.  You can probably see that the NASA in-kind donation of 
our launch costs are around $1 million (my guess---very much interpretable).

Regarding getting travel money from NASA---I know there are a number of 
NASA employees and former NASA employees that subscribe to bb.  They can 
attest to the fact that NASA has few travel dollars to even carry out their 
primary programs.  They have no discretionary spending for travel.  This 
includes ARISS travel.

Those that have asked--the ARRL provides about the same amount of support 
to this program as AMSAT.  As stated, they have increased their 
contribution to the program this year by supporting some of the AMSAT 
volunteer travel costs.

Now, I am sure a question that will be asked is whether this investment is 
worth it?  The ARISS program inspires students to pursue careers in math 
and science and to become ham radio operators.  These aren't just words.  I 
have seen it happen.  As Gunther has mentioned, we touch approximately 
15,000 students per year, worldwide, with the school contacts.  About half 
of these are in the US.  The students never forget this event.  The 
teachers are inspired for years to come and several install amateur radio 
stations in the schools permanently.  The parents see the positives of 
amateur radio and see that we build and develop satellites.  Very important 
when your neighbor sees these antenna monstrosities in your back 
yard.  Instead of complaints about your ugly antennas...you get kudos for 
being part of that team that helped their children talk to the astronauts.

There are two major shortages that are affecting us as a nation and as a 
worldwide community.  These two shortages are the lack of young people in 
the amateur radio hobby and the lack of students pursuing science and math 
careers.  The ARISS international volunteers invest so much time ($5 
million worth) because they believe in the program.  They are inspired by 
the students, by the astronauts and by our ability to fly hardware on one 
of the most complex engineering projects known to humankind.  They know 
that they are making a difference in growing the amateur radio hobby and 
getting students inspired in math and science careers.

One final topic regarding financial support, my dual role on the program 
(NASA Employee/AMSAT Officer-Volunteer) does not allow me to support 
fundraising activities due to the government conflict of interest 
rules.  (I am a special case because I am an officer in AMSAT and according 
to the NASA lawyers I cannot support fundraising functions).  However, this 
should not stop the AMSAT-NA leaders from utilizing the substantial 
educational benefits that ARISS provides to school children as a means to 
garner additional funding.      A slick information package describing the 
tremendous benefits from this program would be a must.  Additional press 
coverage would be great too.  The AMSAT team has lots of raw material to 
develop this.  There needs to be some leadership and strategic thinking for 
the fundraising to be successful.  And, unfortunately, I cannot help on this.

I hope this answers this specific question on the budget.  More to follow 
soon.  Including a discussion on PR.

73,  Frank Bauer, KA3HDO
AMSAT-NA V.P. for Human Spaceflight Programs
ARISS International Chairman

p.s.  So as to not slight any person or group, please understand that my 
definition of an ARISS volunteer is anyone, worldwide, that helps support 
the ARISS program and its ideals.  It includes the ARISS international 
delegates, the AMSAT-NA volunteers, the volunteers from all the 
international countries that make ARISS happen, our Russian colleagues led 
by Sergej Samburov, the ISS Fan Club, and hardware development teams such 
as the MAREX & MIREX teams, the Naval Academy team, AMSAT-Italy, etc.   

Sent via amsat-bb@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
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