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Re: Open questions for the Board of Directors candidates

Stefan, VE4SNA posed some interesting questions:

    > 1. How are you planning to advance AMSAT as a professional organization in terms of management, membership service and transparency?

The members of AMSAT need to recognize that AMSAT is really two,
distinct organizations. The AMSAT most members see is an amateur radio
member service organization that publishes a journal, provides
information to satellite users, provides AMSAT-BB and the AMSAT.ORG
website, provides software and trinkets, etcetera. This group is mainly
concerned with what is happening today. It is this AMSAT that selects
its Board of Directors.

The second AMSAT is a very professional technical organization that
designs and builds satellites, interfaces with professionals in industry
as equals, negotiates with governments for such things as launches,
frequencies and rules, export permits and a lot of other things. Because
the cycle to conceive of a satellite, then design it, the secure a
launch, and then actually fly the concept involves many years, and
because we all hope that our satellites will have a useful lifetime of
many years, this second AMSAT must try to be prescient and try to guess
what will be the state of technology 10-15 years in the future; what
will be the "hot button" topic a decade from now?

As you read the biographies and comments from all the Board candidates,
please realize that, by and large, they come from this second AMSAT world.

In my 3+ decades of service to AMSAT, I have tried to play the role of
"bridge" between the two AMSATs. I have tried to explain some of the
complex considerations to the user community, and I have tried to be an
advocate for the advancement of technology. I leave it to you to decide
on how successful I have been.

    > 2. How are you planning on keeping members informed about your own personal accomplishments as BOD member during your term?
    > 3. How are you planning on advancing the knowledge of our organization, particular our members as it relates to education, training.

Both questions have the same answer: I will continue to listen to the
members by monitoring AMSAT-BB, chatting at meetings, and occasionally
getting on the air; I will continue to inject comments when I feel they
will help; I will continue to write materials for the Journal & web
site. All the Eagle technical work is becoming GNU-like open source, so
the member community will have a good opportunity to see the details.
And, I'm always available by Email at mailto:K3IO@amsat.org

    > 4.  How often have you been using our existing satellites (e.g. AO-51) in the last year?

Only a couple of times, usually during satellite demos. Sadly, I'm not
the operator I used to be!

    > 5. What do you consider as the greatest asset AMSAT has?


The cleverness, dedication and professionalism of our technical and management core.

     > 6. What do you consider as our greatest weakness and how will you address it?

In the early days of AMSAT, much of the "tekkie" core was a bunch of
enthusiastic Space Cadets working at organizations (like NASA and USAF)
which were flying research satellites. We could talk with our colleagues
and make friendly arrangements for piggyback launches. Our professional
colleagues were amazed at our ability to make wonderful accomplishments
out of a handful of surplus parts. Things happened!

Alas, there are few research launches anymore, and launches have become
a commercial item. Launch costs to LEO now cost in the range
$10-20,000/kg when they are available. Piggyback ride to HEO/GEO/GTO are
even more rare. The second "professional" AMSAT works very hard to open
up new opportunities, to identify launches that have a weight margin
that can accommodate us, to form new alliances that will permit a steady
supply of future launches.

Our only solution is to continue to develop new and creative mission
concepts. One of the ideas we initiated with our Microsats (beginning
with AO-16) was to design our payloads with room for add-on experiments;
I dubbed this concept the TSFR = This Space For Rent module. Don't be
surprised if you see Eagle carrying TSFR experiments as a way to
leverage launch space!

I hope this answered some of the questions. Vy 73 de Tom, K3IO (ex W3IWI)
Sent via amsat-bb@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
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