Many Amsat members remember Rick Fleeter's company AeroAstro and many have
read his book "The Logic of Microspace".
There is some discussion in the online bulletin boards to the effect that ITAR
made the company too dependent on US Government contracts, since it was so
difficult for them to sell satellite components on the open market.
Dan Schultz N8FGV
WASHINGTON — Comtech Telecommunications Corp. is closing down its AeroAstro
small-satellite manufacturing business following the loss of a contract with
the U.S. Navy to build a star-mapping satellite, according an industry source.
Ashburn, Va.-based Comtech AeroAstro had struggled of late due to cutbacks in
U.S. government spending, and the cancellation of the Navy’s Joint
Milli-Arcsecond Pathfinder Survey, or JMAPS, mission was the last straw, the
source said. Comtech AeroAstro was building the JMAPS satellite platform under
a pair of contracts valued at $43.5 million, with a launch tentatively
scheduled for 2015.
The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory here warned last October that JMAPS was
facing cancellation, and officials with Comtech in March acknowledged that
funding for the program had slowed dramatically.
Rick Fleeter, who founded AeroAstro in his basement in 1988 and sold it in
2007, said the company had become more vulnerable in recent years due in part
to a shift in focus from satellites weighing 50 to 100 kilograms and costing
under $5 million to satellites weighing up to a few hundred kilograms costing
tens of millions of dollars. In addition, Comtech absorbed AeroAstro’s
communications business into other units of the parent company, leaving
AeroAstro almost solely reliant on satellite manufacturing.
The result, Fleeter said in a July 17 email, was a less-diversified AeroAstro.
“So the loss of JMAPS which was huge and the lack of collateral projects
that might be countercyclical was the problem,” he said.
Fleeter said AeroAstro has weathered down cycles before — the company at one
point shrunk to 13 employees — and probably could have survived its most
recent challenges had the desire been there. “But Comtech has its own
quarterly reporting pressures and carrying a loss forward for several quarters
probably is even more difficult,” he said.
Comtech, a major supplier of satellite telecommunications electronics
hardware, has been hurt in the last two years by the loss of a pair of
contracts with the U.S. Army to provide troop tracking gear.
Comtech considered a number of options for AeroAstro, including additional
layoffs and taking the company private, before deciding to shut the operation
down, the industry source said. The company will close out or transfer its
remaining contracts and expects to shut down the small-satellite manufacturing
facility in Ashburn by Aug. 31, the source said. Work on some of those
contracts will be completed at the company’s Littleton, Colo., engineering
and component manufacturing facility, but that operation also will be closed
eventually, the source said.
AeroAstro currently has about 50 employees, down from about 85 a year ago. The
last day for employees deemed nonessential for the closeout operations will be
July 31, this source said.
Reached by telephone July 16, Paul Lithgow, president of Comtech AeroAstro,
declined to comment.
Michael D. Porcelain, senior vice president and chief financial officer of
Melville, N.Y.-based Comtech Telecommunications, did not immediately return a
phone call seeking comment.
Over the years, AeroAstro built small, one-of-a-kind satellites primarily for
U.S. government customers including NASA and the departments of Defense and
Energy. Fleeter sold the company in 2007 to Phoenix-based Radyne, a satellite
equipment manufacturer that was looking to tap what at the time appeared to be
a promising small-satellite market, particularly at the Pentagon.
Comtech acquired Radyne in 2008.
When Fleeter cashed out, the Defense Department was investing in Operationally
Responsive Space, a collection of programs intended to prove the utility of
low-cost space capabilities that could be developed and deployed rapidly in
response to emerging needs from forces in the field. But as budgets began to
tighten, the initiative lost steam. The Pentagon proposed closing the
Operationally Responsive Space office along with its long-running Space Test
Program — which served as a means of launching small, experimental
satellites — in its 2013 budget request, unveiled in February.
Fleeter said that contrary to what he believed when he sold AeroAstro, the
long-anticipated revolution in small satellites has yet to take hold.
“I work with many space organizations around the world, and there is
widespread lack of understanding of what small space is and what small
missions can do,” Fleeter said. “The world is still quite frozen in
concepts of the past in terms of what we can do in space and how we can do
He did say, however, that there remains a place for small-satellite makers and
that the niche is being filled by companies like Sierra Nevada Corp. of the
United States and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. of Britain.
I have just heard today 26/07/2012 at 14:15 UTC, aprox. the ISS in a QSO with a school!!!!
Such great experience!!!! Really really a joy. It took me by surprise as I was not aware of an ARISS contact scheduled because i didn't read the last ARISS report.
Este mensaje ha sido enviado mediante el servicio de correo electronico que ofrece la Federacion de Radioaficionados de Cuba a sus miembros para respaldar el cumplimiento de los objetivos de la organizacion y su politica informativa. La persona que envia este correo asume el compromiso de usar el servicio a tales fines y cumplir con las regulaciones establecidas.
I tried the pass that started here around 1600 UTC. I could hear the
downlink but the quality of the signal was like what I noted during
the previous pass: faint and crackling.
By comparison, I called CQ on VO-52 which came a few minutes after I
was finished. The downlink was strong and clear so it doesn't appear
that the problem with AO-7 was with my station hardware.
Bernhard VA6BMJ @ DO33FL
>But operationally is there a huge difference?
Not really. Both work. I have a 910 and 847 at home, and use an 857 and 817 mobile.
>On another subject...
>Are eggbeater antennas a good option for someone just starting out?
>Something like M2's setup?
Not really, in my opinion. They might work, but you could have a much better antenna system for less money. M2 short starter series yagies tilted up 15 degrees, a tv rotor, and a UHF preamp would cost less than a pair of eggbeaters and work twice as well.
73, Drew KO4MA
AO-07 seems to be a little strange.
It changes between mode-A and mode-B (or perhaps mode-C)
Mode C is the same as B but with lower power on the downlink.
Looking at http://oscar.dcarr.org/
is also confusing.
Perhaps the sun angle is very bad.
Any bids ?
A newby question...
Is there any advantage or disadvantage to using a single radio setup
(IC-810H or similar) versus a two radio setup (something like two
IC-706MKIIG's or other combination)? SatPC32 seems to handle both
But operationally is there a huge difference?
On another subject...
Are eggbeater antennas a good option for someone just starting out?
Something like M2's setup?
Kelley - W0RK
*Nikolai has asked me to post here on the BB for him, some information:*
*VE3NKL/p* has added some places and grid squares he plans to operate
during this family vacation trip. *Please check his QRZ.com web page*
for the additional information and locations posted there.
He is *currently in GN09*, has been in *GN19*(may go back there before
he leaves) and his future travels are listed on the QRZ page
He has mentioned that he is moving around a bit up there and he is
operating *FM satellites only!
*these are some nice grids for us "grid chasers" Good Luck Everyone!
He may not work every FM satellite but he is working SO50 & AO27.