Apogee View – November/December 2018

Joe Spier, K6WAO, President

For me, the past two months have been fairly intense. I attended the Duke City Hamfest in New Mexico, visited Gordon West in Costa Mesa, drove to Virginia and flew to Heathrow to be at the AMSAT-UK Colloquium in Milton Keynes, England, returned to Maryland for the ARISS-I Conference, spent a week in the AMSAT Office in Kensington, and then headed to the William A. Tynan W3XO Memorial Space Symposium and General Meeting in Huntsville, AL, before returning back out West for the holidays. My first year as AMSAT President has come to an end, and at the AMSAT Board of Director’s meeting, I was elected to my second one-year term as AMSAT President. The BOD’s main requests of me were to create a two-year, five-year and 10-year master plan. The two-year and five-year plans are to include the AMSAT Office, AMSAT’s Golden Anniversary, and the GOLF projects. The 10-year plan will be quite flexible, basically suggestions to be refined and/or changed. Some of my major tasks this year will be to complete the member database update, promote international cooperation for both ARISS and AMSAT, policies, and AMSAT’s Golden Jubilee at Hamvention and Symposium. The Huntsville team did a fantastic job this year at an exceptional venue, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks go out to the Symposium team headed up by Chairman Robert Bankston, KE4AL!

I’ll walk you through my extended tour starting with the Duke City Hamfest in Albuquerque, NM. Besides having an AMSAT booth presence, an all-day AMSAT Academy was hosted by me, Bill Ripley, KY5Q and Skyler Fennell, KD0WHB. We spoke on five topics: (1) AMSAT History 1957-1979, (2) AMSAT History 1980- 2011, both of which included the Basics of Amateur Radio Satellites and Current Communications Practices, (3) Locating Amateur Radio Satellites and the Use of SatPC32 Tracking Hardware and Software / SatSat for iPhone, (4) Operating the FM “EZ-SATs,” SSB/CW Satellites and Digital Modes which included Amateur Radio Satellite Station Antennas, Radio Equipment and Accessories, and (5) the Future of Amateur Radio Satellites. These presentations will become the foundation for a group of AMSAT approved PowerPoint presentations for the AMSAT Ambassadors program. Many thanks to Bill and Skyler! I also spoke at the farewell breakfast on Youth Outreach in AMSAT and ARISS.

On the way back to Reno, I stopped in Costa Mesa, California, for a visit with Gordon West, WB6NOA, and his lovely spouse, Suzy, N6GLF. Episode 369 of HamNation aired September 26th and may be seen at twit.tv/shows/ham-nation/episodes/. After a quick stop in Reno, Carolyn, KF6JQE, and I headed across country to Dulles International in Virginia for our flight to Heathrow Airport outside of London. I drove up to Milton Keynes where the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) and AMSAT-UK were having their Convention and Colloquium. I spoke at the AMSAT-UK Colloquium on “50 years of AMSAT and Beyond.” Among the many great talks over the next days were the European Student Earth Orbiter (ESEO) satellite, the FUNcube programs including ESEO & JY1Sat, Es’Hail-2, and other talks. Other activities included an ARISS Contact with Serena Aunon-Chancellor, KG5TMT on the ISS. I was also able to operate from the RSGB’s National Radio Center (NRC) at Bletchley Park. The AMSAT-UK Banquet was great fun as were the animated discussions to the wee hours of the morning on all things satellite and space-related. Cheers go out to Jim Heck, G3WGM, Graham Shirville, G3VZV, Dr. Chris Bridges, M0IEB, Cairan Morgan, M0XTD, Dave Johnson, G4DPZ, Trevor Essex, M5AKA, and all the AMSAT-UK team, especially the Sergeant-Major.

I returned to the U.S. on October 16th for the annual ARISS International Face-to-Face Meeting at the College Park Airport & Museum in College Park, MD. I attended the second day of the first-ever ARISS Education Summit that was held at the facility.

At the international meetings, ARISS delegates and team members from around the world presented and listened to talks on all aspects of ARISS, from operations to education to hardware, current and upgrades to future projects. The team heard the latest news on HamTV, the Interoperable Radio System, and the antenna change-out required by the Bartolomeo platform, potential Astrobee activities, HamTV II, Radio-Pi projects, and crew scheduling. The team was particularly interested in a presentation by John Guidi, NASA Gateway Utilization Manager, who said ARISS is the only non-commercial entity whose ideas are being considered by the Deep Space Gateway program. Team members enjoyed viewing a live-streamed ARISS contact in Belgium. On the last day, an ARISS contact took place between meeting attendees and Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor, KG5TMT.

At the ARISS Education Summit, attendees included: educators from the U.S. and other countries; ARISS-US Education Committee members; and STEM educators from College Park Airport Museum, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Space Communication & Navigation (SCaN) & NASA GSFC Education Office; NASA HQ SCaN; CASIS/SSE leaders; ARISS-I delegate/attendees, SCaN-sponsored educators from the mid-Atlantic region; and University of Maryland educators and students. They saw a demo of ARISS Slow Scan TV and several ham satellite contacts. One of the ARISS-US Education Committee teachers brought eight of her students to give talks about their STEM studies. Other committee members were part of a panel session discussing educator perspectives on ARISS and gave presentations on the ARISS education proposal process and orbit prediction programs. Astronaut Paul Richards led a discussion on space and education. CASIS’ Dan Barstow spoke on exploring with the ISS, and Jimmy Acevedo/SCaN presented on kit-based learning. Attendees toured Goddard Space Flight Center and the ARISS K6DUE ham radio station.

ARISS-I and AMSAT Vice President for Human Spaceflight Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, ran an excellent meeting with hosting a get together at his home and coordinated tours and banquets through the week. ARISS-I agreements with RosCosMos will fly one of the new modified Kenwood D710’s no earlier than the Progress-72 Resupply Mission scheduled for February 2019. The replacement Packet Module flew on Progress-71 that was launched on November 16th and docked with the ISS on November 18th. ARISS hopes to have the packet module operational in the Columbus module shortly.

I then spent a week with Martha in AMSAT office in Kensington, MD. I reviewed various office processes and equipment, a new lease agreement, and the status of the needed database work. I also met with our accounting firm, interviewed some consultants and prepared the BOD Agenda for the BOD meeting the following week. I arranged to have dinner with Dr. Perry Klein, W3PK, AMSAT’s Founding President and Paul Stoetzer, N8HM, AMSAT’s Executive Vice President. Perry provided me with the 2m/10 M circuit board that Dick Daniels, W4PUJ(SK) designed for AO-6/7/8 that spent a little too long in environmental testing (Dick’s oven) for our auction at the 50th Anniversary Symposium. After picking up the Symposium Proceedings books and the award certificates, Carolyn and I headed for Huntsville with a short trip through the Great Smokey Mountains National Park for the fall colors.

The AMSAT 36th Annual Space Symposium will always be remembered as the William “Bill” Tynan W3XO Memorial Symposium. The BOD meeting was held at the hotel with all directors and officers present. Unfortunately, our two alternates for the board could not attend. The BOD Meeting was pretty standard with financials, department updates, election of officers, and regular AMSAT business. We were able to pass the 2018/19 budget before adjourning.

The Symposium itself was held at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center Educator Training Facility (ETF) The talks were exceptional and, if you missed them, they are available on the web, as is the digital version of the 2018 proceedings (available on the AMSAT store). The Symposium also had an ARISS contact between meeting attendees and Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor, KG5TMT, making it my third ARISS Contact in four weeks. An APRS balloon launch followed the ARISS contact. The banquet under the Saturn V was truly memorable and included access to all the exhibits in the Davidson Center including the Apollo 16 Command Module. Justin Foley’s (KI6EPH) presentation on the Mars 2020 Rover capped off the evening quite well. The final day included an AMSAT Ambassadors breakfast and tours of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and Marshall Space Flight Center.

The Es’hail-2 satellite with AMSAT-DL’s Phase-4A transponder was launched successfully on Thursday, November 15 from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. I applaud the joint Qatar Amateur Radio Society (QARS) and AMSAT-DL’s achievement, the result of six years of work. To be a first at something in space is indeed a rare honor. It is this type of honor that AMSATs around the world work on every day. I spoke with Peter Gülzow, DB2OS on November 17th and wished AMSAT-DL success with the next part of their mission to be the first amateur radio linear transponder in geostationary orbit.

AMSAT Fox-1Cliff launched on December 3 and is now in orbit as AO-95. The SSO-A mission successfully carried several amateur radio satellites, including AMSAT’s Fox-1Cliff, FUNcube on ESEO, JY1-SAT, K2SAT, and ExseedSat.

As one of my assignments as President, AMSAT’s Golden Jubilee at next year’s Hamvention and Symposium will include a 1969 theme and an “OSCAR Park” display. Please make your plans now to attend Hamvention at the Greene County Fairgrounds in Xenia, OH on May 17-19, 2019, as well as our Symposium for 2019, which will be in the Washington DC/Baltimore area, tentatively planned for mid- October 2019. Our chairperson for next year’s Symposium is Ms. Melissa Pore, KM4CZN. Any help to provide fun and distractions on the 50th Anniversary would be much appreciated.

AMSAT now has a Vice President of User Services, Robert Bankston, KE4AL, who was elected by the board on November 20, 2018. I want to welcome Robert to the Executive Team in filling a position that has been vacant for far too long. Robert has taken on the task of essentially providing the AMSAT membership with the services that our members expect in the 21st Century. I look forward to working with him. The AMSAT Vice-President of User Services is the team leader for the AMSAT News Service (ANS), The AMSAT Journal, Dayton Hamvention, Contests and Awards, AMSAT Ambassadors, AMSAT Nets, AMSAT Website, and Electronic Communications.

I hope you all enjoy the holidays and will participate with AMSAT on the satellites. I encourage you to do your part, whether that’s operating the satellites, giving AMSAT or ARISS support, or bringing dollars or new members to our organization.