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OSCAR Numbering policy

Hi Cliff,

I'm happy to continue the discussion we started months back regarding
the OSCAR numbering policy.  As you'll recall, and for the benefit of
others who didn't see the prior emails, I was asked to review the policy
and compile a revised policy proposal for the Board's consideration
based on the comments that you, Bob and Emily had been providing.  For
several reasons our discussion got interrupted, but as you point out the
time is ripe to get this done.

I've interspersed some questions and comments to your email below.

On Thu, 2006-02-09 at 07:04 +0000, Cliff Buttschardt wrote:
>  From Cliff K7RR:
> Hi all.  Normally I am most content to simply stay on the sidelines of
> issues such as the issuance of AO-54.  In my view, although legally
> issued within guidelines of AMSAT, a disservice was done.  

What disservice do you feel was done and to who?

> We must
> re-examine the three points that created those guidelines.  I am in 
> agreement with Emily and partially so with Greg. N0ZHE and Bob, WB6APR.
> The question of creating a numbering series designated "experimental" or
> "OSCAR experimental" was created a month ago when action should have 
> been taken rather than having AO-54 issued under antiquated guidelines. 
>   Here are some excepts from Greg's and Bob's messages:
> > Amateur Oscar Experiment Number:  AE-XX or OE-XX
> > 
> > I do think that Amateur Radio should take credit for
> > all payloads in space that properly operate in the
> > Amateur Satellite Service.  There are lots of such
> > payloads and "experimentation" is fundamental to
> > the amateur radio experience.
> > 
> > For example there are a number of cubesats that
> > do fit the bill for valid amateur radio experiments
> > even if they do not carry a full user transponder,
> > but these are no less of an amateur radio entry into 
> > space.  (This from Bob Bruninga--WB4APR)

I agree as well.  The point I guess I'm missing is what do we gain by
creating a subcatagory?  A lot of effort has been and is being put
forward to make these groups participatory parts of the larger amateur
community.  I'm concerned that we could be taking a step backwards by
doing something which furthers an us vs them perception.

> suitsat is a good example as to why the "OSCAR number policy" 
> http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/information/faqs/numbers.php  should go 
> under a major overhaul, it is very broad and has no real requirements to 
> be met. there is a big difference between an experiment that has a life 
> of just a few weeks and a real amateur radio transponder that is 
> expected to last for years providing communications voice or data. not 
> trying to take anything away from suitsat because it was a great school 
> project for the young students, and any exposer that amateur radio can 
> get is a good thing.          Greg N0ZHE

I think Greg hit on something that several others have also poked at.
There appears to be an underlying feeling with some that OSCAR numbers
should be restricted to those with "real amateur radio transponders".  I
think we should again consider carefully the impact of segregating the
community.  We've made some progress along these lines in that now
projects which were initially concieved solely as experiments DO see
themselves as part of the amateur community and are looking at ways to
provide communications services to hams world-wide either during or
following the completion of their experimental mission.  Examples would
include Delfi-C3, SSETI-Express and FASTRAC though there may be others

I'm very concerned that we may be shooting ourselves in the foot with
this if we don't take a long-term view and consider the possible
perceptions created by whatever we do.  I see a high risk that creating
an "experimental class" would effectively shut off consideration of
providing general communications services as an additional mission goal.

> It would be prudent to ask the two individuals, WB6APR and K7RR closely
> connected to small amateur satellites for an opinion!  Bob's remarks are 
> noted and valid.  You may know of my close connection with CUBESAT group
> now in the seventh year of operation.  It was my intention NOT to apply
> for an OSCAR designation for any of the CUBESATS in which we had some
> responsibility.  It was obvious that a separate designation more
> properly called OE for "OSCAR EXPERIMENTAL" or XAO for "EXPERIMENTAL
> ACADEMIC OSCAR" would be appropriate.  

Any project certainly has the freedom not to be considered for an OSCAR
number and many of the Cubesats to date have not requested an OSCAR
number.  While there are certainly different mission objectives, I'm
looking for a benefit to creating a separate designation.  So far I see
mostly potential negative outcomes.

>          Additional guidelines concerning OSCAR number issuance to the
> three basic ones already in place might be these:
>     1.  Any request for a number must be in orbit a minimum of 14 days,
> operating on amateur frequencies even if that satellite was previously
> on non-amateur frequencies and reassigned to amateur operation.

Why 14 days?  This seems rather arbitrary and opens a new set of
questions.  Does operating mean providing open communication services or
just activating a telemetry beacon?  

>     2.  Clearly state that the satellite must be in international bands
> operated by licensed amateurs.  Realize that some bands such as 70 CM is
> a "shared" band.  There is nothing preventing non amateur operation.  It
> is highly unlikely the IARU will be unresponsive on the subject however.

4d in the policy asks the applicant to "specify the country under whose
laws the spacecraft is operating".  We need to be mindful of being too
USA/FCC-centric in our outlook.  While there are international treaties,
other countries have some rather different views and regulations on what
consitute "amateur radio".

>     3.  CUBESATS may be launched at the same time in multiple numbers.
> Our next launch will have 14 CUBES.  The resulting "cloud" of CUBES may
> all request numbers.  Multiple CUBESAT launches invite confusion.  A
> separate designation would be somewhat helpful.  Again WB4APR states:
>         "Taking this approach, lets Amateur Radio take
>         credit for the efforts in space without impacting the
>         OSCAR series for the classic AMateur Radio
>         Communications satellites."

Hopefully Calpoly will be willing to assist us by providing the
separation sequences.  

4e from the existing policy states, "It is customary to refer to OSCAR
satellites by a hyphenated name, of which the first part is typically
selected by the owner/builder, e.g., UoSAT-OSCAR 11. For some purposes,
such as Keplerian tracking bulletins, such names are commonly
abbreviated to initials, e.g., UO-11. The request should indicate
preferred name in this format; AMSAT-NA will assign the number." One
thought specifically about the upcoming Cubesat flight would be that
they could request designation as "Cubesat-OSCAR" thus recognizing their
heritage in both.  I also see nothing there that would prevent them from
requesting "Experimental-OSCAR" or "Educational-OSCAR" if they so

I'm looking forward to discussing this further.

Lee McLamb - KU4OS
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