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At 12:34 PM -0500 7/16/08, <k7zt@suddenlink.net> wrote:
>what could possibly be wrong with making the HEO effort an international undertaking with maximum resources focused on a single goal.

That's also known as "putting all your eggs in one basket". We (the worldwide AMSAT organizations) did that with AO-40, and that's a big part of the reason why it has been so long between HEO missions.

HEO missions take a long time to get ready, and they don't last forever even when they're successful. If you don't have one in the pipeline, there's going to be a long dry spell before you can launch. In order to keep the HEO missions flowing, it's necessary to have more than one project going at the same time, at different stages of development.

>Eagle is so complex and bogged down that I honestly don't see it going anywhere soon.

As screwed up as our development organization is, engineering is NOT the bottleneck on Eagle. Simplifying the engineering task will not speed up Eagle. A launch is, and will be for the foreseeable future, the bottleneck on all HEO missions. The disarray you see is, in part, a result of the organization casting about desperately for a way to solve the launching (i.e., funding) problem.

Simplifying the engineering task could, however, easily cripple the capability of the mission to have a significant effect on amateur radio. Another weak-signal big-antenna SSB/CW transponder will not change the world. A highly optimized digital small-dish system that does an excellent job with high-quality voice and modest-rate data, on the other hand, just might. It's a challenge well worth pursuing.

Some people in AMSAT management think that a system like that might actually yield a solution to the launch problem, by impressing the US government with the potential utility of the system. I am skeptical, but I don't have a better idea.

>   The outlook for HEO is very grim, unless we pool resources (both financial and intellictual) set some milestones and manage to those.

The outlook is grim regardless of any resource pooling, unless we find a way to fund a launch. Make no mistake: pooling our paupers' financial resources won't fund a launch.

Managing to milestones is all well and good, once enough is known to set sensible milestones. We're not there yet on Eagle. Any milestones we wrote down now would be fantasy.

73  -Paul
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