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"NSF Taps Tiny CubeSats for Big Space Science "



Space.com had an interesting article on the use of
CubeSats to monitor space weather.

http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/080827-nsf-cubsats-science.html

While reading this article, it may be useful to think about
how these activities might be leveraged into additional
support for amateur communications payloads.  For example:

o Support space weather research.  Could an amateur
   communications satellite be subsidized if it carried
   space weather instruments?  Could a microsat focused
   on space weather research carry an amateur communications
   payload (particularly, if the amateur communications
   package carried space weather telemetry)?  Could a
   network of amateur ground stations collect space weather
   telemetry?

o Support space research (beyond space weather).  There
   is actually a long history of using research payloads
   to support amateur satellites.  Yet, this method of
   funding amateur satellite activities seems to often
   fall off the short list of ways to subsidize amateur
   communications satellites.

o Develop the next generation of space scientists and
   engineers.  There are persistent concerns that we aren't
   attracting enough students to the space sciences.  By
   all appearances, this concern has been leveraged by
   the ARISS and related projects into substantial government
   support for amateur radio in space.  Why can't we make more
   use of this scheme?

o Supporting on-orbit experiments.  Provide space and telemetry
   to on-orbit experiments provided by others.

o Provide technical assistance to microsat developers.  This
   might both provide a source of support and might help put
   more amateur communications payloads on small satellites.

Most, if not all, of these approaches _have_ been used in the
past to subsidize amateur communications satellites.  But, the
most widely quoted list of potential sources of funds seems to
have devolved into: emergency communications and education.
What about all of the other other proven methods of supporting
amateur satellites?

Perhaps, part of the problem is AMSAT's apparent nearly
exclusive focus on amateur satellite users.  Look at AMSAT's
public image: its Web pages.  Should there be more content
on AMSAT's Web pages that might attract potential
collaborators who have money? Potential developers?
People with interests in amateur satellites and amateur
satellite communications beyond using HEO voice transponders?

What does AMSAT want to be when it grows up?  Who is its
target audience?  Primarily amateur satellite users?  Or,
does it want to attract a broader audience?

-tjs

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