The worldwide amateur radio community must interface with one unified voice to the various space agencies that form the ISS partnership. The ARISS organization, whatever its flaws may be, was created by the efforts of a lot of hard working hams in many countries to provide that interface. Without it ham radio would have no access to the manned space program, and as a child of the 1960's who grew up with the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, I am thrilled that we hams have such access. I could easily imagine a world where this was not allowed. The fact that we are able to launch anything to the ISS, given the astronomical value of every kilogram of payload mass on the Progress or the Shuttle, and every minute of astronaut and cosmonaut time on orbit, is truly amazing.
The recent complaints on the BB remind me of the hams who bash the ARRL without understanding that without the ARRL, amateur radio would have been abolished long ago by the powers that be. We hams need to understand that whatever disagreements exist between us are not nearly as serious as the external threats to our amateur radio avocation. Whatever your beef is, please work within the organization to make it better, and not tear it down in public view. Writing “open letters” addressed to the world’s space agencies is not helpful to this effort or to your fellow hams.
Moving on another amsat-bb thread, AO-40 was designed and built to take advantage of what turned out to be a once in a lifetime opportunity to launch a very large amateur payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit. Had we chosen not to build it, I can imagine lots of people complaining on amsat-bb about how Amsat management had dropped the ball and squandered an amazing launch opportunity.
The presence of exotic transponders on AO-40 is not what caused its failure. The 24 GHz payload was contributed by an Amsat member organization and was built because they believed strongly enough in its value that they committed their effort and their funds to get it built. There were transponders on AO-40 to serve every interest, from VHF to UHF to S-band to millimeter wave. Hams MUST push their technical limits and explore new frontiers, it is one of the reasons amateur radio still exists. Critics cried about the "complexity" of the S-band downlink and then some clever hams took some cheap off the shelf TV down converters, made some slight mods to retune the input frequency, and got a lot of hams active with 2.4 GHz receive capability for very little money.
I agree with the letter in this month's QST (September issue, page 24), suggesting that those who complain that the amateur radio has gotten "too technical" might better enjoy reading People Magazine instead.
Dan Schultz N8FGV