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President's Letter December.

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to All AMSAT members around the world.
What ever your personal religious beliefs may this season bring to you and 
your family both Joy and Happiness and may your "Rigs" never fail and always be 
exactly on frequency!

As we enter into 2004 let us consider ourselves lucky that we are members of 
one of the most technical amateur groups in this world and that through our 
own technical and financial efforts there are a number of satellites waiting to 
be launched in this coming year.

The two satellites that I know are almost ready are our own ECHO and VUsat 
from India.
I am pleased to report that from the regular communications I have had over 
the last two weeks, ECHO is passing final integration and testing with flying 
colors. Many thanks to the teams who have provided components and also to Jim 
White and Mike Kingery who have recently spent much time integrating and 
checking testing etc.

I am looking forward to the end of March when we expect the ECHO launch to 
take place, that is only just over three months from now, and we still have to 
raise $70,737 for the launch campaign. Remember that if you want to be able to 
put your donation against taxes (in the USA) your donation must reach Martha, 
at the AMSAT Office before the first of January.
Don't leave it too late as Martha has some vacation time due!.
I  hope that we can reach the 50% or $55K mark by December 25 and $60K by 
January 1.

VUsat which had some problems in testing, has resolved the nature of the 
problems (a filter) and corrections are being made. I understand that a launch is 
possible in the late summer or Fall of 2004. Details of the payloads of both 
ECHO and VUsat may be found on the AMSAT-NA web page,  (www.amsat.org) and more 
details of VU sat on the AMSAT-India Web Page.
An exciting year is ahead.

 Looking back over the past 12 months, I would like to thank our benefactors, 
yes, all of you who have put time, effort or financial help into AMSAT. 
Whatever your role, I can tell you that it is very much appreciated. I will not 
single out more people as the list would be very long, but in an organization 
such as AMSAT membership is really only the first step, participation in any form 
is the next, and I might add, very satisfying.
October 2004 will see the completion of my term as President, by then ECHO 
should be in Orbit and you should be working it very easily, but let me add just 
one word of warning, to re-phrase Yogi Berra  " it ain't up and working 'till 
it's up and working". Generally our launches and commissioning has been 
excellent, but we, like many other organizations in the Space business, have had 
our problems and I hope learnt by them.

To finish this letter where I began, Congratulations to the AMSAT membership, 
you are on the leading edge of technology in many areas.
Consider that only 100 years after Wilbur and Orville, there have been 50 
OSCARS in orbit, many successful shuttle flights with Ham Radio on Board plus the 
RS satellites, MIR (Ham Radio and SSTV) and now the ISS with ARISS (Phase one 
and two).
The irony of it is, that we still call ourselves "AMATEURS" can you imagine 
any other amateur group making this sort of Achievement?    Aren't you proud to 
belong?      I am !
Seasons Greetings and 73

Robin Haighton  VE3FRH
President AMSAT-NA
Sent via amsat-bb@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
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