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Re: Magazine Editors

Someone said to G7HIA:

> You are doing a great job but sending this e-mail is walking a very fine line 
> with commercialising our amateur bands for the Universities around the world 
> to build and launch satellites without a licence or a radio amateur.

When this group started up they applied to the IARU Satellite Frequency
Co-ordinator for a frequency; he referred them to me.

After finding out what they were about the Amsat-UK BOD discussed whether
the project should receive our support. After some debate we decided that
it *should* have our support; this was communicated to the frequency co-
ordinator and he allocated a 70cm frequency. At Amsat-UK's request I was
nominated as the group's "mentor" and general liaison person.

Some background on the project: HAND looks a bit like a pogo stick. To
deploy it a cosmo/astronaut (during EVA) unfolds it, opens a (cold) gas
valve, points it in the same direction as the space station (or whatever)
is travelling, and lets go. 

The gas fires for one quarter of an orbit at which point, when propulsion 
ceases, the pogo stick should be in the right attitude for gravity gradient 
stabilisation. Thrust is miniscule and presents no hazard to the guy 
launching it; they just need enough delta-v so there is no risk of collision. 
Gas is contained within NASA approved containment (they *have* been talking 
to NASA about it).

The first flight of this project will not carry an an amateur payload,
merely a little science plus telemetry to determine whether the principles
they are testing do, in fact, produce the desired results.

This nanosat is powered by batteries; they expect the operational lifetime 
to be about one week.

So ... why did Amsat-UK support it ?

1) Amsat-UK want to support more home-grown spacecraft; we feel that we don't
do enough for Amsat-World. While the University of Surrey wave a nice flag 
for the UK they have their commercial side too so we would like to have more 
than one establishment putting amateur radio into orbit. Bristol University 
said that, once they had proved the concept, they would be delighted for later
flights to carry an amateur radio payload as well as science.

2) With a lifetime of only one week we felt that, although the first payload
would not be amateur, this project was a "good bet" for the future of amateur
radio satellites. With a co-ordinated frequency out of the way of other 
birds, no harm would be done and the potential for the future possibilities
made this investment worthwhile.

I still believe the above and support the project.

Being a university, they want to roll their own and *not* use any off-the-
shelf solutions; they want their students to learn from every aspect of the
project. But, still being a university, this is not a *fast* project; it 
started in 1999 and they're still not ready for flight. Of course I'm a bit
disappointed they haven't flown yet ... but they'll get there some day and
are teaching future engineers and scientists in the process. BTW: I am not
aware of any commercial involvement in the project.

I put their questionnaire website onto amsat-bb last november. Last week
they told me they'd had 16 hits - made me feel ashamed of all the satellite
amateurs out there who constantly say we need to feed today's youngsters
to get tomorrow's amateurs. John (G7HIA) just re-published it - flame me,
not him, if you don't like it.

> The Hand Satellite is been built with a radio amateur frequency co-ordinated 
> by AMSAT, sponsored by Richard G3RWL, there is no radio amateurs at Bristol 
> University 

Just not true. They have amateurs, I have met them, but they are not
experienced in amateur satellites. They, and their students, still fire 
questions at me from time to time (eg at first they wanted to use a binary 
telemetry format but I talked them into using AX-25 bursts, just like Bob's

> My personal opinion is that this is an abuse of our bands, at the very least 
> they could have trained to be a licensed radio amateur, they are not even 
> taking the foundation course, they just want the data collected for their 
> university PHD student.

Students, plural; about 60-80 per year. So they don't have many amateurs now;
we are looking at the future. Sure, UoS have a lot of radio amateurs who are
also getting their science data collected via amateur frequencies. They 
scratch our back and we scratch theirs; its been a beneficial partnership.

> Sorry to voice my personal opinion so strongly John, I can see our satellite 
> bands going to all universities with not a radio amateur insight

I share this concern but I will not allow myself to be counted among those
paranoid people who decry everything that isn't pure amateur radio - times
are changing and if we don't bend with the wind then we'll break. The 
difference in this case is that they asked first and promised future 
co-operation (although I *do* wonder how many years it will be before this 
will bear fruit). If you don't try, you don't get; and opportunities to make
a difference over this side of the pond are few and far between.

Richard W L Limebear G3RWL
FOC # 1188

              You can't please all the people all the time
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