New Ideas for Hollywood Blockbusters

Following up on my previous post about how amateur radio is typically portrayed in movies, I thought I’d float a couple suggestions for the silver screen that include ham radio, without the need for an apocalypse…

I’ll bet not even a single director in Hollywood is aware that radio amateurs have built and launched our very own communication satellites. And not just a few — we have an entire fleet — with more heading to low earth orbit almost every month. These are frequently designed, financed, and constructed by radio amateurs with a keen interest in space communication.

And many of those who harbor that specific interest are radio hams by night and NASA employees by day. And some of those who aren’t direct employees of NASA are employed in other areas of the space industry. This insider link provides amateur radio with an unparalleled, intimate knowledge of the “business” and is responsible for much of the success we’ve obtained in this highly technical and specialized endeavor.

Well right there’s a dozen waiting story lines. Hams at NASA collude to hijack high-value satellites for amateur radio communication by hacking the system from the ground. It doesn’t take a fertile imagination to see many possible angles here, none of which would strain credulity.

But let’s dig deeper and find higher adventure.

Let’s say that a group of radio amateurs in New Zealand (better scenery to work with) built an amateur radio payload for launch. One that included onboard propulsion. That would be somewhat rare these days as we’ve taken to hand tossing payloads out of the ISS or ejecting them using powerful springs from a disposable ring that may carry dozens of small satellites with one launch. But in the halcyon days of ham radio in space, we built much larger satellites, equipped them with fuel and engines, and launched them to much higher, transfer orbits.

Say this group does the same thing.

After launch they maneuver it very near the path of some super expensive, military spy satellite and then we discover that the payload includes explosives. This group then extorts millions of dollars from governments or large corporations in exchange for not blowing up those satellites.

(If the notion of sneaking explosives onto a launch vehicle seems too far-fetched, the “amateur radio” payload could simply be maneuvered directly into the orbital path of another vehicle and kinetic energy could do the dirty work).

I’d pay to see that movie, wouldn’t you?

But there’s one other premise that seems more interesting, and one that just might tickle the fancy of a filmmaker.

Say a group of radio hams work for a company like Space-X. Intent on building and launching resupply ships to the International Space Station. And let’s suppose that a couple of them decide to ride in that supply vessel. Upon arrival, they board the station where they proceed to whip out handguns and order the current crew to evacuate back to Earth. Once they are alone on the station, they weld the other hatches permanently closed. They just “stole” the International Space Station. The biggest heist in history. Mostly for kicks but maybe to use as the premier low-earth platform for ham radio communications.

Or maybe it’s about money. Hollywood loves a good extortion plot. They could offer to abandon the stolen station for a billion dollars. Or de-orbit it over a populated region if they don’t get the money. It’s fiction, anything could happen!

And it would be nice if the leading actors had names like Clooney, Reynolds, Bullock, and Cooper…

Author: Jeff Davis


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