November 30, 2003

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AMSAT-NA President November Newsletter

The Buck Stops Here.

Greetings and a happy Thanksgiving to all USA readers.

As President of AMSAT-NA, I am responsible to provide to you the information which you need so that you can support the funding of our projects. Several of you have been asking questions on the AMSAT-BB about the funding of Echo and the need for an Echo launch campaign fund. Let me start off by saying that I have not read AMSAT-BB for some time as I try and deal with some forty AMSAT related letters each day and reading the -BB would make life almost impossible, so with no apologies I state that I don't read -BB. However I do get briefed on the contents regularly by AMSAT officers.

I will try and answer some of your questions one by one below:

1) How much does ECHO cost?

There is no exact answer to that, because as you know we entered into a contract with SpaceQuest of Fairfax Virginia to build the "basic parts of Echo".

As in most commercial contracts there was a clause which prohibits AMSAT from releasing the actual value of the satellite, however I can tell you that I believe the price was very fair and I doubt that we (AMSAT-NA) could have designed, built and tested ECHO for close to this figure, particularly as Echo does use the triple junction high efficiency (27%) solar cells. I estimate that with SpaceQuest, AMSAT-NA additions and experiments, export permits, meeting ITAR requirements, testing, launch, etc., the total expenditures will be in the order of $350,000.

A real bargain for a complex satellite.

2) Where did AMSAT-NA get the funding from for Echo?

The funding for Echo was taken from our reserves, a large proportion of which came from the work done by AMSAT-NA builders and designers on the University of Toronto MOST project.

3) Why cannot the reserves pay for the launch?

AMSAT-NA has to maintain a small reserve of about one year's operating expenses. According to our accountants, we are around that level now. If the Echo launch were paid for from the remaining reserves we would fall below the safe operating level.

4) Why have our reserves fallen so low?

In the year 2000 our reserves were over $600,000 mostly in good investments, but they had got there through both good investing and the rapid escalation of the stock market in that year. You may recall that during 2000 the market bubble burst and with 911 Enron, WorldCom, etc., the market continued to slide until this year. In January we had lost about $100,000 and our payments for Echo were coming due.

AMSAT-NA was fortunate to have a good security and investment advisor who had our investments well diversified, so we lost comparatively a smaller amount.

5) You have posted a "thermometer" on the web page.  Where did this $22,000 come from?

Members have provided only $7053 of this amount. The rest is a gift from AMSAT-UK. Somebody on the web page suggested that "$25 dollars from each member would be enough" - Yes that is theoretically true, but remember there are members who cannot pay, members who will not pay and members who forget to pay. That puts the average amount to about $125 not $25.

6) If there is surplus money in the reserves after Echo has been launched, what will AMSAT-NA do with it?

In addition to being a financial operating reserve for our day to day operations, the reserve is also a building fund reserve which enables us to continue with the design and development of new satellite projects so that satellite construction can continue between "funding appeals".

Our next satellite "Eagle" has continued at a very low activity level during the rapid design, development and construction of Echo. Once Echo is "up and running" AMSAT reserve dollars will be applied to Eagle.

7) You mentioned in a previous letter that AMSAT-NA was sending a person to the launch site is this really necessary?

The State department requires that every satellite developed in the USA must have a US citizen with it at all times up to launch. (ITAR rules). In addition it is very advisable to have a person who understands the satellite present, to monitor progress and see that all systems are functioning at launch time. So yes, it is necessary.

8) If I donate to the Echo Launch Fund, can my donation also be a part of the "President's Club"?

Yes, it most certainly can. For our accounting purposes make sure that Martha (in the office) understands that you want the money to go to the Launch Fund - but you also want President's Club recognition.

9) Is there any limit to the amount I can give?

No limit at all. It is a good way to get a tax letter from AMSAT-NA. Remember if you donate early then you may be able to reduce your amount of tax payable next year (USA members only).

I am sure that you have other questions you would like me to answer on this subject, if so please post them directly to me ( and I will reply via the December Presidents Letter.

Once more have a great Thanksgiving weekend.

Robin Haighton VE3FRH
President AMSAT-NA

[ANS thanks Robin Haighton VE3FRH for the above information]

ARISS Contact Schedule and Successful School List

The latest ARISS announcement and successful school list is now available on the ARISS web site. There are several ARISS web sites:



ARISS Europe:

ARISS Japan:

Other locations include:

Latest ARISS announcements and news

Successful school list or

[ANS thanks Charlie Sufana, AJ9N for the above information]

ARISS Gear Passes Preflight Test

Some exciting news on new ham radio hardware slated to be carried to the International Space Station. We have more in this report.

ARISS International Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, reports that he and other members of the USA team just returned from Russia where we they were supporting a series of meetings and tests at the Energia facility.

According to Bauer, the primary reason for the US team visit was to complete the testing of the Phase 1 Ericsson 2 meter and 70 cm radios, along with the Phase 2 Kenwood D700 radio system using a set of flight identical ARISS antenna systems.

The tests were performed in the KIS facility at Energia that houses all their flight equipment. Inside the KIS is a flight equivalent Service Module. The good news is that the group not only successfully completed the end-to-end testing of the Kenwood and Ericsson radio systems but the SSTV system as well.

The successful completion of these end-to-end tests was a requirement by the Russian team. This, to clear these radio systems for use in the on-orbit Service Module.

By the way, the International Space Station celebrated its fifth anniversary in Earth orbit on November 20th. (ARISS)

[ANS thanks Amateur Radio Newsline for the above information]

Satellite Operating Awards

Congrats go out to those that have recently made their very first satellite QSO. May they have many more years of fun on the satellites.

Guillermo Guerra, XQ3SA

Congrats go out to all of the following for earning their Oscar Satellite Communications Achievement Award.

#388 N2AJK Peter Sitter 12-Nov-2003
#389 N1HOQ Shawn Reed 23-Nov-2003
#390 XQ3SA Guillermo Guerra 23-Nov-2003

Congrats also go out to the following for earning their AMSAT Oscar Sexagesimal Award.

#132 N1HOQ Shawn Reed 23-Nov-2003

Congrats also go out to the following for earning their AMSAT Oscar Century Award.

#36 N1HOQ Shawn Reed 23-Nov-2003

To see all the awards and a list of those earning the awards, visit

[ANS thanks Bruce Paige, KK5DO for the above information]

ARISS Status, November 25, 2003

Upcoming Schools

ARISS contacts have been scheduled for Renmark Primary School in Renmark, South Australia on Tuesday, November 25, and for Berufliches Schulzentrum Elektrotechnik, in Dresden, Germany on December 5, 2003.

TIM in Moscow

The end-to-end testing of the Kenwood radio system and the SSTV system with the ARISS antenna systems, in the flight-backup Service Module located at Energia, was completed. The tests all went well and the paperwork signature process has started to clear the Kenwood radio and SAREX 70cm radio for use in the Service Module with the new ARISS antennas. It is our hope that this will be completed by December 8.

ARRL Article on ISS Anniversary

ARRL ran a web story entitled "International Space Station Marks Five Years in Space." It included highlights on how the ISS is home to the first permanent Amateur Radio station in space, NA1SS.


ARISS International Educational Outreach Committee Meeting Held

The ARISS International Educational Outreach/School Selection Committee held its bi-monthly meeting moderated by Rosalie White. Rosalie prepared minutes that have been posted to the ARISS Web site.

See - November 13, 2003

[ANS thanks ARISS for the above information]

Tampa Hamfest, Request for Help

Hello all,

AMSAT will again have a booth at the upcoming Tampa Hamfest on Dec. 6th and 7th in Palmetto, Florida. I could use a few volunteers for both days, even if just for an hour or so. We will have a portable AO-40 station on display, as well as be doing demonstrations on SO-50 and FO-29, (maybe AO-7). I'll also have a display of DX QSLs from AO-40, as well as playing some video of a Dnepr launch like Echo will be on.

Please come by and help out.

Would some kind soul forward this to the field-ops list for me also?

[ANS thanks Drew, KO4MA for the above information]

Reception of Mars Express Signal

Dear All,

The European Mars Express probe will arrive on Mars on Christmas Day and deploy the lander Beagle toward the Mars surface.

Joint preparations by the IUZ and the AMSAT-DL for this event have started months ago, because the 20 metre parabolic antenna is also deemed to be used as ground station for the AMSAT-DL future P5-A Mars Mission.

On Sunday, Nov. 16th, Germany saw a first ever event when a strong (40 dB/Hz) 8.4 GHz signal of the Mars Express - at that moment 102 million kilometer distant - was directly received at Bochum over a number of hours. It was the first time ever that a signal of an interplanetary deep space probe was received in Germany. It was probably also the first time ever that such a signal was received by amateur radio operators.

With this successful test the general functional and operational readiness of the 20 metre parabolic antenna in Bochum to serve as AMSAT-DL command station for the P5A Mars Mission has been proven. It will then be used to navigate the P5-A satellite in 2007 safely towards Mars and to enter a Mars orbit.

The complete report is here:

Peter Guelzow, DB2OS
President AMSAT-DL

[ANS thanks Peter, DB2OS for the above information]

Weekly Satellite Report

Link to the weekly report on satellite ...

All Satellites
ISS. RS-12. RS-13. RS-15. AO-7. AO-10. UO-11. UO-14. AO-16. LO-19. FO-20. UO-22. KO-23. KO-25. IO-26. AO-27. FO-29. GO-32. SO-33. PO-34. UO-36. AO-40. SO-41. SO-42. NO-44. NO-45. MO-46. AO-49. SO-50

Please send any amateur satellite news or reports to the ANS Editors at

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This week's AMSAT News Service bulletins were edited by AMSAT News Service Editor Dave Johnson, G4DPZ,