Thank you for the thoughtful questions.
- How are you planning to advance AMSAT as a professional organization in
terms of management, membership service and transparency?
One of the challenges we face is that we need to involve more people in AMSAT's efforts. Too often when a job is identified we turn time and again to a single small handfull of people. Those people, while hard working and dedicated, may not have the best set of skills for that particular job. We need to be better at asking for help. Many members have significant experience and skills outside the technical field. We need to let people who may have writing, marketing and other skills know that they are needed. For example, the VP of Marketing and User Services position has been empty since October of last year. This is a non-technical position for which we should be requesting interested people step forward.
Regarding transparency, I am a big supporter of the 'open source' model that the Eagle team is implementing with frequent Journal reports and Eaglepedia. I think the AMSAT News Service (ANS) is greatly underutilized as a channel for keeping everyone up-to-date on the latest activities within AMSAT. Improving timely communication has always been a key point for me. That is one reason I continue to work as an ANS editor each month.
- How often have you been using the existing satellites (e.g. AO-51) in the
Truthfully not nearly as often as I would like. I do most of my operating at demonstrations and special event stations. The result is I keep disassembling my satellite station to take it to Boy Scout camps, Jamboree On The Air, Field Day and other events that our local club hosts. I also tend to listen much more than I talk so while you may not hear me on the satellites I typically try to at least listen to a few passes each week.
- What do you consider as the greatest asset AMSAT has?
AMSAT has a great reputation among those in the industry who know about us. Unfortunately that isn't as widespread as it should be. I'll address that more below. AMSAT's other great strength is the vast base of technical expertise available for our projects. We have some world-class expertise working on our projects with an amazing amount of dedication.
- What do you consider is AMSAT's greatest weakness and how will you
AMSAT's greatest weakness in my view is communication, both within the organization and the larger amateur community as well as with industry and government agencies. If we are not being effective in letting people know what we are doing and sharing our progress, then how can we expect to have their support? The Journal is certainly a viable way to communicate with the membership and Jim Sanford has been doing an excellent job with his continuing series of updates on Eagle. We need to have someone associated with each project who can act as a field reporter so that everything gets on-going coverage. These reporters would also help by providing information to the writers of the satellite columns in other magazines like QST and others to ensure they have the latest and correct information. As for those outside the amateur community, for the last four years I've been travelling to conferences such as the NASA Small Payload Rideshare and AIAA Smallsat as well as Cubesat workshops to represent AMSAT. As a result we've turned around several negative perspectives of AMSAT and greatly improved the awareness of amateur radio's history and on-going role in space. We are also gaining insight into how and when launch opportunities might arise or even perhaps be created.
- What are you planning to do to ensure a healthy, stable future for AMSAT?
Membership growth is key to the survival of AMSAT and our ability to carry out satellite projects in the future. From my review of membership statistics it seems clear that long-access, high orbit satellites is what results in membership growth. That is why I'm fully committed to AMSAT's vision of having multiple high-orbit satellites in orbit. Our previous approach of getting a single satellite up then waiting until it was showing signs of age or failed to start on the next next one results in unacceptably long periods with no high-orbit access. The reality is these projects take a significant investment of time and money to make happen. We must be actively working on Eagle even as we support the completion of P3E.
As a result of my attending the last RIdeshare conference we now know of two different satellite programs that will each be launching multiple satellites to GTO in the next several years. Each of these launches has an excess capacity of over 1000 lbs. Having identified these programs I'm now working on how to get AMSAT considered as a potential secondary satellite on those launches. There are also other launch possibilities coming along that could result in similar or better coverage and access times but would not be GTO launches.
Educational outreach is also vitally important to AMSAT's future. Many schools are now involved in developing satellites which intend to utilize amateur spectrum for their command and telemetry links. By engaging with them early we can help them see themselves as part of a larger community. My work mentoring several of the University Nanosat teams has shown a great willingness to include a communications mission for their satellite as long as we get with them early in the design phase of their project. The Nanosat program has the potential to launch a satellite to LEO every two years and possible every year. Don't let the term "nanosat" put you off. These are cylindrical satellites 45cm in diameter and 45 cm in height which makes them considerably larger than what AMSAT has traditionally called a microsat.
One of the things I think I would bring to the Board is an ability to think outside the box and willingness to try something new. We must start reaching out and engaging others in our vision if we are to succeed and thrive in the future.
73, Lee McLamb - KU4OS