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Re: Right-sizing a sat [was: Antennas on the bird]

on 1/12/01 12:47 PM, Margaret Leber (K3XS) at maggie@voicenet.com wrote:

> I suppose one could argue that P3D sapped resources from these projects and
> starved them out. But gee, somewhere along the line they would have gone from
> "too small" to "too big"; the "sweet spot" that Goldilocks was looking for is
> usually somebody's gut-based judgement call. It's really easy to say "too
> big/complex" *after* something has turned up dicey, and the retrospectroscope
> is
> an instrument on *every* sat op's workbench.

You're right!

I don't think the P3D project was too big for a number of reasons:

What if we'd built a "simple" spacecraft with a similar propulsion system.
What would we have now if we only had put VHF and UHF on it?  Robert said we
should have had more AO-10/13 types.  Well, AO-10's computer is dead and
AO-13 was vaporized.  While we learned from these, what's to make us think
that bad things wouldn't happen to birds in the future.

I had a good conversation with Keith Baker last year at Dayton.  Keith was
then AMSAT-NA president.  From the comments he made, AMSAT was willing to
accept the fact we may not get a "100%" satellite.  He told me that a LOT
had to be done and a "LOT" could go wrong.  He said getting the bird
launched was the least risky and the most easy part.  He said we would be
VERY lucky if everything worked without a hitch.  His words turned out to be
very correct.

I don't believe that any enterprise of growth and achievement can be
completed without risks.  Part of our charter as hams is to experiment and
push forward technology.  About the ONLY place where this is being done is
in the satellite arena.  P3D was revolutionary and innovative in many ways.
The "big boys" were all impressed with what "amateurs" could do.  Think
about what we have put up there ALL BY VOLUNTEER effort.  No way is P3D a
failure in any shape of the word.  Why do AO-10 and AO-13 over and over?
Been there.  Done that.  We needed something else to stretch our horizons
and move us forward.  Additionally, when P3D was conceived, I don't think
anyone realized that AO-13 was going to burn up.  Yet we learned from the
mistakes of AO-10 and AO-13 and have a better bird up there now in those
areas where we learned.  The next P3 bird will have improvements in whatever
areas were found to be lacking in P3D.

We must always strive to be more.

As far as taking money away from the microsat projects, those have never
really been sponsored by AMSAT (perhaps AO-16 was).  For the most part, they
have all been college students, etc. putting together the birds as a
learning experience themselves.  That's why everyone considers their
experiments to be successful and wonderful even if they fail.

Pushing technology involves risks, particularly with space travel.  But it
is needed, and I will support it.



Jon Ogden
NA9D (ex: KE9NA)



"A life lived in fear is a life half lived."

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