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an amateur satellite for $295



There's even a better deal -- if you fly 3-5 golfballs, they offer a 10%
discount to $265.50 each, according to
http://www.bigelowaerospace.com/fly_stuff/items/.

It appears that the keep the items contained and flying loose within the
inflatable module(see the graphic at
http://www.bigelowaerospace.com/fly_stuff/items/examples.php), so you
must be prepared to occasionally contact somebody else's item and the
balloon's walls. Also, as Pieter noted, it's not clear how much solar
energy leaks thru the VECTRAN (http://www.vectranfiber.com/)skin if you
want to try some solar mini-panels for power.

I also note that Vectran has a dielectric constant = 3.3, so when you
design your antennas, you need to take into account that you will be
executing a random walk inside a "balloon" which has a velocity factor
of 1/sqrt(3.3)=0.55 and an aluminized skin.

Have fun !! -- 73, Tom
----
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