Subject: Re: AMSAT Critical Election
Thanks for including me in your distribution. I am not endorsing any candidate, nor do I think my endorsement would matter anyway.
As you know, there already is a HEO amateur satellite payload in orbit. It was mainly built by AMSAT-DL as a "passenger" on a GEO satellite placed into orbit by a friendly Arab government. It cannot be directly accessed from North America but there is nothing to prevent a North American ham from accessing it through a gateway via the Internet. No, such a contact wouldn't count for DXCC, but as you said, not all hams are interested in awards or contests.
Unfortunately, the US does not have a ham-friendly government. After rejecting the comments of AMSAT and ARRL in the "small satellite" rulemaking, FCC seems more interested in creating obstacles to amateur HEOs (e.g., the orbital debris docket). I won't even mention ITAR/EAR. Does it really matter who builds the next one? If so, why?
I must admit that I get a bit nervous when somebody mentions that he wants to build a satellite interesting to commercial users. Why should amateur bands be used for such things? I am not speaking here for IARU, but I spend a fair amount of time helping to review the proposals we get for frequency coordination. Quite a few of them are really commercial projects, dressed up to use amateur bands. Our bands are precious; we need to keep protecting them.
Finally, not all hams are interested in awards or contests, but many are. AMSAT has always had a combination of techies and operators, each doing what they do best. Long may that continue.
73 Ray W2RS