On Fri, Aug 21, 2009 at 10:35:29PM -0500, Rocky Jones wrote:
Bruce...so we are doing satellites now for their educational not communicative value?
If it isn't obvious to *everyone* yet, the world of amateur satellites is changing. It isn't like this is the script we would have chosen for this movie, but it is the hand we are being dealt. The days when an AMSAT member could get us a cheap/free ride through his "employer" are about as distant as the Pony Express and we would do well to accept that, tough as it may be to swallow.
I realize that much of the AMSAT brain trust has long-ago fled this list, but the bottom line is that the organization needs to fix the still broken and misleading mission statement, and we all need to look for new and *interesting* things to do at LEO. And that doesn't always require two-way communication to be successful. In case you haven't noticed, some of the more interesting things in ham radio these days don't necessarily require two-way comms -- like WSPR.
We are of course radio hams, and we want to play with our radios, but AMSAT has always been about more than that of necessity. Best I recall, our most talented satellite builders from back in the day had little or no interest in radio -- they were interested in building satellites.
Frankly, my interest in AMSAT is that it serves to connect me with space. Be that downloading telemetry from a Cubesat, downloading on orbit pictures, making a few contacts with an FM repeater in LEO, working the ISS and talking to an astronaut -- reading the AMSAT Journal and learning more about all these things, and attending conferences where we get to meet like minded souls and share ideas and notions about space late into the night over a cold beer...
If I were a billionaire, I would love to donate the funds so we could have a global network of amateur satellites at HEO. But I'm not and so far none have come along and made that offer.
Lacking that, or the ability to get that, if I want to talk to my friends on another continent I use Skype and the sun still comes up every morning. We aren't going back to HEO and we likely aren't going to raise enough funds to build a highly sophisticated LEO craft.
But we have an excellent model for the cards we've been handed in this second decade of the 21st century in the Cubesats. They are relatively inexpensive to build and launch, and with a little effort we can get Universities to build and launch them for us, and if one launch fails we don't lose the entire freaking farm.
There are only two things we lack: the imagination required to come up with truly innovative and interesting things to do with them, and the ability to jettison this member fetish for an HEO dream that will not come to pass for at least two more decades, and maybe never.