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Learning from SSETI Express

The current inoperability of SSETI Express is of course a great disappointment
for many of us in AMSAT, but I think we should take our lead from the attitude
of the students involved, who are concentrating on the lessons learned and the
goals achieved. It may seem to us that describing the 'successes' of SSETI
Express is excessively optimistic, but I suggest that isn't the case. I work
with undergraduate researchers in my job, and it is quite true that a great deal
can be achieved and learned even if the prime objective is not reached.

Indeed, I would argue that the same logic can be applied to the situation of
amateur operators. Let me give three examples and a suggestion.

For our part, I have on many occasions heard it argued that satellite operations
give amateur radio as a whole its forward-looking face and provide the public
with a more balanced view of our hobby. If you've been reading the news media
reports on SSETI, both before and during its troubled last few days, you'll have
been proud of being described as an 'international team of amateur radio
operators' and the like. SSETI's generous inclusion of us as team members has
been a public relations success (and an honest one at that, as anyone who reads
this list can attest!)

Secondly, Graham and the rest have pioneered a deeper model of collaboration,
wherein critical hardware, the expertise to use it, and access to our data
collecting power is traded for use of the satellite after its primary mission is
completed.  Again, I think it is clear that this model of collaboration was a
success. A reading of the past week's amsat-bb would leave no doubt that we
amateurs would have been effective in our role. 

Thirdly, it should be noted that within our ranks there was a kind of bargain
struck: the digital ops. were going to have a few months of work and fun, and as
a result a voice repeater would have been opened up.

Look at any list of the cubesats and microsats that are planned for the next
five years, and consider how we might apply the lessons learned from SSETI
Express to these opportunities. For my part, I believe that we should encourage
the production of suitable hardware, especially difficult to obtain materials
such as the S-band transmitter, to have on hand in order to help projects that
are willing to make the same bargain as the SSETI Express one. It is certain
that some of these projects will run short on time or on data bandwidth like
SSETI Express and be happy to make use of such equipment were it available on
short notice.

As for us, I think this project shows what enthusiasm there is for a LEO S-band
signal. I know I was looking forward to SSETI Express's FM transponder to help
me improve my S-band setup before the arrival of the HEO's.  

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