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Future of Amateur Radio in Space

I have read some of the posts that have been flying back and forth about
"this-EX" and "that-EX".

I don't know enough about the politics of all of that to make any kind of
judgement about the merits of any argument, but one thing has occurred to
me that I hope all involved will pay attention to.

The success of the MIR SSTV project is directly related to the fact that
the signals can be received without a lot of obscure and expensive
equipment.  This opens participation to many more people.

One of the aspects of the SSTV experiment on MIR that has made it popular
is that it is a downlink only operation.  This eliminates the need for the
big tracking antennas and high power.  It does not generate pileups and
massive interference and even non-hams can participate.  The "end product"
is also something that can be shared with and understood by anyone.

As Amateur Radio projects for the ISS move forward, it is extremely
important that there be at least some components of the program that are
accessible to beginners and others who do not have the ability to set up a
"big station".

The first Amateur satellite I ever heard was AO-6.  I used a Drake 2-B
receiver and about 30 feet of wire laid out on the grass in the backyard of
a friend's house.  I copied the CW beacon very shortly after it was
launched and it was still one of the highlights of my nearly 30 years in
Amateur Radio.  I still get a kick out of just hearing signals from MIR and
the other satellites.

Finally, I echo the sentiments of those who say that all of the quibbling
over this should be taken off-line and that the future of Amateur Radio in
space  must be put ahead of turf battles.  We certainly don't want to be
kicked off the ISS because we are perceived as a bunch of squabbling children.

Having said that, I'll also say thanks to everyone who has worked to
promote the Amateur Radio space programs!

Rip Smith, K3XO

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