February 22, 2004

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President's February Letter

To All members,

I was disappointed to learn of the additional delay in the Echo launch, as you are aware we had hoped that Echo would be launched last fall, then we learnt that it would be this spring, and now it appears to be this summer with the launch window starting on June 29th.

In the fall I pointed out that we could take advantage of the delay by allowing AMSAT some extra time for integration and testing, and to a much lesser degree this could still be true, let us hope that this will be the last delay. I should point out that none of these delays have been at the request of AMSAT, I am informed that the latest delay is due to a delay in the primary payload, we are a long way down the list from the primary, so we have to take what we can get, but the price is right.

Talking of price, the latest information I have on the "Echo Launch Campaign Fund" advises me that we have $57,750 or over 52% of our goal, I note that there are people who would like to give to Eagle as well as Echo, and I am instructing the appropriate officers to open a "thermometer" on the web page to show the funds collected for the design and construction phases of Eagle so that you may all see the goals we have to meet and the challenges in front of us as well as the progress made. This "Eagle thermometer" will start with an initial goal of $600,000, a figure to be confirmed and possibly increased following Eagle design meetings, it does not include the launch cost which is at the present unknown and needs to be determined, but almost certainly it will exceed another $600,000 and possibly be as high as .... well your guess is as good as mine, but you can be sure we will be working to reduce it to a minimum. HEO is an expensive proposition for launch.

As we have attempted to do throughout the development of Echo, we will continue to do with Eagle, that is, to try and keep you informed of the progress in design, development, construction and testing of the satellite and as soon as we have a launch available as many details as possible will be made available. Eagle will be an "Open Project" allowing full access to the details wherever possible. Note I did not say completely full access as there may be cases where it is prudent to spend you money on a proprietary item at a lower cost than to develop an equivalent but new device, AMSAT may not have access to the full details of the proprietary item or may be legally bound not to disclose the technical details. "What are those items?" you may ask ... right now I do not know, but I would be surprised if some do not show up.

Recently there has been a discussion on AMSAT-BB about the AMSAT leadership, our lack of attention to the -BB and how we spend money. The Leadership of AMSAT constantly keeps in touch with the membership, and spends a great deal of time doing so. Many members choose to E-mail us directly asking good questions and getting the answers. The membership also consists of many people who read the -bb and do not participate on it. Your board and executives have received many E-mails of support from these people over the last two weeks or so for which we thank them.

What is the purpose of -BB? It is there firstly for the use of the membership to exchange technical information and to ask technical questions. Secondly it is there to ask other non-technical questions regarding satellite operations, licensing, regulations etc. Thirdly it can be used to trade ideas for future satellites and influence AMSAT future policy in this regard. There are three good ways to use -BB and I am sure you can think of more constructive items.

Let us get out of the negative thinking modes, for if you want the BoD and officers to read the BB on a regular basis, then let's make it a constructive exercise. I realize that these thoughts only apply to a small minority of the membership and quite often to non-members.

My best regards to you all - it's nearly spring.

[ANS thanks Robin, VE3FRH, for the above information.]

Fund Raising

As of 18 February the Echo Launch campaign raised $58,650 towards its $100,000 goal and the Eagle Build campaign raised $17,077 of its $600,000 goal.

[ANS thanks Martha, AMSAT Manager for the above information.]

Expedition 9 Crew, KE5AIT & RN3DT

The ARISS team would like to congratulate astronaut Lt. Col. Mike Fincke on earning his Technician license, KE5AIT. Once he was selected to replace William McArthur Jr, KC5ACR, on the International Space Station's Expedition 9, Fincke recognized the need for an American ham to continue ARISS contacts with schools. In addition to his many pre-flight preparations and activities, he also devoted as much time as possible to studying for his ham license. Within 10 days he studied for and passed the Technician exam. He obtained callsign KE5AIT on February 18.

The ARISS Team would like to express their gratitude to Lt. Col. Fincke for his hard work during these hectic pre-flight days. We'd like to thank him for his commitment to and belief in the ARISS Programme.

[ANS thanks Scott, N3ASA, for the above information.]

Russia to Build New Spacecraft

Russian engineers have begun design work on a spacecraft that would be twice as big and spacious as the existing Soyuz crew capsules, the nation's top space official said Tuesday.

The craft will be able to carry at least six cosmonauts and have a reusable crew section, Russian Aerospace Agency director Yuri Koptev said at a news conference. Soyuz carries three cosmonauts and isn't reusable.

The spacecraft, designed by the RKK Energiya company, will have a takeoff weight of 13 tons to 15 tons -- about twice as much as the Soyuz, which was developed in the late 1960s. Energiya has also proposed developing a booster rocket based on its Soyuz booster to carry the spacecraft to orbit. Koptev wouldn't say how long it could take to build the spacecraft or how much it would cost, but said Energiya had done a lot of work on the vehicle already.

"It has already reached a serious project stage while the Americans are only talking about their spacecraft," Koptev said, referring to U.S. plans to build a new spacecraft.

President Bush's plan of returning astronauts to the moon and flying to Mars and beyond envisages phasing out the shuttle in 2010 and building a new spacecraft, called the Crew Exploration Vehicle, which is set to make its first manned mission no later than 2014.

Koptev said his agency was willing to consider possible participation in the planned U.S. moon and Mars missions, but hadn't yet received any formal proposals from NASA.

[ANS thanks Florida Today for the above information.]

ISS Uplink (Temporarily) Changed

As many of you have noticed, the ISS has been silent for the past few days. In actuality it has been operational but listening on another uplink frequency. It is currently configured for uplink on 145.825 and downlink remains 145.800. However, this is temporary, and the uplink frequency may revert to 145.990 at any time. From time to time the uplink may be switched back briefly to 145.825.

In addition, due to the upcoming EVA, the crew's time has become very restrictive. This demanding schedule will cause lesser priority items to be postponed and at some point will mean the amateur radio equipment will be turned off for a time.

After the EVA, it is expected that ISS operations will return to normal frequency pairing and operations.

Kenneth - N5VHO

[ANS thanks Kenneth, N5VHO, for the above information.]

AMSAT-DC Meeting

The local AMSAT members invite all space enthusiasts to the next Maryland-DC area annual AMSAT Meeting and Space Seminar. Students, educators, experimenters and all amateur radio operators are welcome. We start at 12:00 noon this year. Mark your calendar for Sunday, March 21. Same place as last year, namely the Visitor Center auditorium at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The topics relate to the amateur space program, amateur radio, homebrew electronic projects, high-altitude balloon experiments, telemetry and related items.

The format is a combination of presentations, informal "show 'n' tell" demonstrations and a social period. Normally the first presentations and the keynote address are designed to be especially valuable for the beginner satellite operator.

Informal talk-in is on WA3NAN/R 146.835 MHz Greenbelt. The Visitor Center phone number is 301-286-8981.

Donations will be accepted to help offset the associated seminar costs.

Free paved parking is available on site.

Information and late breaking news can be found at

Hope to see you there!

Pat Kilroy, N8PK
AMSAT Area Coordinator (MDC Section)

[ANS thanks Pat, N8PK, for the above information.]

ARISS Glenwood Success

ISS Cmdr. Mike Foale successfully answered questions from students at Ohio's Glenwood Elementary School on Friday. He was able to answer the majority of student questions.

Preliminary reports from AMSAT members indicate the ISS side of the conversation was heard at least as far as Boston and Baltimore.

[ANS thanks Scott, N3ASA, for the above information.]

UO-11 Commemorative Event

On 1 Mar 2004, UO-11 (aka UOSAT-2) will have been in space for 20 years! To mark the event, AMSAT-UK will be issuing a commemorative QSL card in exchange for listener reports from stations hearing the signals during the month of March 2004. The reports MUST be made by way of the reporting page on the AMSAT-UK web site (

The QSL card will be in the form of a downloadable "E-QSL". Depending on the numbers of reports received, it MAY be possible to issue printed QSL cards. A decision will be taken on this when AMSAT-UK can gauge the numbers involved.

UO-11 was the second satellite to be launched by Martin Sweeting's group at the University of Surrey, and its telemetry beacon can now be heard on the 2 metre and 2.4GHz amateur radio bands (The 2.4 GHz signal is not very strong and represents quite a challenge). Depending on the status of the satellite, it sometimes goes into 'safe' mode, and the beacon transmitters are not activated for days at a time. AMSAT-UK has asked the University of Surrey Ground station staff (who can still command the satellite) to maximise the number of days the transmitters are active during March, but other duties might preclude them from doing this.

Please pass this information on to anyone who might be interested.

Please see for an article and pictures about UO-11, details of the 'rules' for reports, and a link to the reporting page are at and a sample qsl card (which incorporates the 1984 design) is at

Further information, questions please post on the UO-11 Forum on the AMSAT-UK web site at or to

[ANS thanks Jim, G3WGM, 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 Scott Lindsey-Stevens, N3ASA,