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The Road Ahead



Folks,

First, I'd like to apologize for having kicked off a thread that ended
up being derisive on the BB yesterday -- that was not my intent.
Having the facts, as disappointing as they may be for those of us who
have been waiting over a decade for an HEO replacement, at least
affords us an opportunity to reconnoiter.

It's no one's "fault" that the business of launching a satellite has
become so costly to an organization like ours. But facts are facts and
if we complete Eagle and carry it to the front door of some launch
company and are presented with an invoice for $6 million dollars, then
it's safe to say that new satellite will never leave the ground.

In an ideal world we would build several satellites and have them
"ready" to go just in case some launch company calls to say they have
room for an "extra 200kg at discount rates" but as we have painfully
learned in the past, you never know what that launch configuration
might be capable of supporting so how can designers "guess" in 2007 at
what a configuration for launch in 2011 might look like?

President Hambly has pointed out that any ideas about P4 are just that
-- ideas and plans and negotiations. But I can see a significant
advantage in that we wouldn't have to "guess" at what a launch adapter
might look like years in advance -- all we would have to assemble is a
communications payload and let a 3rd party handle the physical
integration.

It would really be nice if we would step back for a few days and allow
all this to marinate in the brain before folks start tossing around
threats to withhold donations, etc.

I suspect that this turn of events has much deeper implications than
just the disappointment of HEO enthusiasts (of which I am one).
Consider for a moment how this will impact those among us whose
primary interest was in designing spacecraft hardware -- or those
seasoned veterans who may not live to see another high orbit bird in
our fleet come to fruition.

I can see a future where AMSAT will pursue opportunities wherever
possible but we might have to learn to do other things too -- perhaps
one day AMSAT will take on high altitude balloon projects,
partnerships with SETI, more interesting payloads for University
sponsored LEO sats, etc.

It's also pretty obvious that this is a challenging time for AMSAT
leaders who have volunteered to lead us through these perilous waters.
Let's give them a hand by supporting them and some of the tough
decisions that no doubt will need to be made to keep things moving
forward.

Honestly, I had decided not to renew my Presidents Club support next
year but that was before all this came up. While I'm disappointed, I'm
also impressed with the candor that has been shown in giving us these
facts.

I'm going to renew my support because this looks like an enormous
challenge and frankly, that's what makes life interesting. I have no
interest in doing easy things -- I much prefer to battle the odds and
see how much we can accomplish with the cards that have been dealt to
us.

Agreed?

73 de Jeff, KE9V
AMSAT-NA
AMSAT-DL
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