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Re: Apathy

Hi All,
I am very interested in the recent input under the Title "Apathy".
The following is not a defense of the AMSAT Board and it's decision to put  
ECHO into Orbit, it is  more of a listing of  the facts that took  place after 
the problems which occurred on 
AO-40. Would you have done anything different under the  circumstances?.
1) Following the initial problems with AO-40 the AMSAT-NA BOD of directors  
met and decided that a replacement satellite should be developed as soon as  
possible. Initial thoughts were to make a simplified version of AO-40. Using as  
many existing designs and components as possible.
2) A meeting of the designers and Builders was held in Denver in 2001 and  
some initial plans were put forward to build this satellite and a further  
meeting was planned for Orlando.
3) A team comprising Jan King and I was designated to determine the  
possibilities of a launch, both "When" and "How Much". Jan and I met with the  one 
launch agency that was interested (others were contacted but showed no  interest) 
 there was no problem concerning the timing but the cost was  enormous! - at 
least by AMSAT standards. 
4) Remembering that it took ten years to get the funding for AO-40 (P3D) it  
was probably going to take the same period of time to raise the funds for our  
proposed, simplified, replacement for  AO-40 (this would be  2011!)
5) It was clear that a re-think of our position was necessary, as unless we  
developed another satellite in a shorter period of time, AMSAT  would  loose 
most of it's membership, thus making it totally impossible to  raise the funds.
6) The BoD met again to review this position and determined that it would  be 
possible to Launch a LEO satellite, using a Russian Launcher, in a relatively 
 short time (2 Years) and that there was still a demand for a LEO (Judging by 
the  correspondence on this -BB).
7) The BoD  received an offer from Spacequest, a Virginia  Company, to assist 
in building a LEO satellite at an attractive cost, and this  proposal was 
accepted by the BOD, in light of all the above items this satellite  became ECHO
8) The BoD also recognized that design work would continue on "EAGLE" and  
AMSAT-DL proposed to develop a P3E, which may be launched in 2006.
9) It was recognized that both the size and weight of spacecraft are  
reducing due to advancements in Electronics and particularly in Solar Cells,  such 
advancements will make P3E and EAGLE  smaller and easier to launch  than AO-40 
with (we hope) much reduced Launch Cost.
10) Two other factors outside of AMSAT control that have had a major  
influence on AMSAT's ability to develop expensive HEO satellites (there is no  such 
thing as a cheap HEO satellite) are the 911 disaster, this for a period of  
time upset the financial markets and consequently donations to .AMSAT, and  
secondly this years Hurricanes which have a similar effect.
11) The BoD met again in 2004 and developed a new Vision which recognized  
that the P3E satellite will be a part of the AMSAT-NA Vision as the first of 3  
HEO satellites to be launched, followed by Eagle and another HEO satellite to  
try to develop a system with an HEO satellite available to amateurs at all 
times  almost anywhere on the Earth's surface.
12) AMSAT-NA anticipate that Eagle will be Launched in about 2009 and the  
third satellite in about 2012.
That is the very Simplified Background to the current situation, If you  want 
to be sure that the projections actually take place then ---- be prepared  to 
donate.   Read the Latest Journal about the President's Club   .... But don't 
grumble unless you are an active subscribing member of the  President's club. 
Satellites do not grow on trees.
Robin Haighton VE3FRH
Immediate Past President AMSAT (NA)
Sent via amsat-bb@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
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