The AMSAT Board of Directors recently authorized the senior officers to acquire a commercially-built FM satellite, including a launch, contingent on funding being received from external sources covering at least 90% of the total cost which is expected to be around $300,000.

This makes sense given that industry pricing for a simple payload to a low-earth-orbit has fallen dramatically and the turnaround time is probably ten times shorter than another in-house project.

Another FM repeater in the sky isn’t my cup of tea, but it is for a majority of AMSAT enthusiasts and given the current lack of that kind of payload in the pipeline, results from this action should make a lot of its 4000+ members happy.

Funding for this project is intended to be derived from grants and other sources to keep the organization from tapping its own bank account. And speaking of that, AMSAT also reported having nearly a million dollars on hand mostly as a result of cost-cutting and efficiency improvements made over the last year.

This is a significant detail that must certainly stick in the craw of those nattering nabobs of negativity who less than two years ago were screaming about the imminent demise of the Corporation due to malfeasance of leadership that now looks as though it was complete malarkey.

Lesson Learned: Beware the person who tells you the ship is going to sink unless you elect them or their handpicked cronies.

The BOD also authorized the creation of a working group to evaluate opportunities for a flight to a High Earth Orbit/Highly Elliptical Orbit.

My own opinion is this will go nowhere given the many challenges for any amateur organization to overcome in order to pull something like this off. And even if serious issues with regulations and funding parted like the Red Sea, I’m not convinced the talent required to build such spacecraft still exists in this hobby.

Construction on what ended up being AO-40 began nearly three decades ago and work on AO-13 started nearly four decades ago. Mechanical engineering, thermal management, propulsion, power management, stabilization, etc. go far beyond designing and building a transponder or crafting specialized software.

The development of the Phase 3 (A,B,C,D) satellites took place during a specific period of time by mostly all the same designers. It was a fertile engineering period to be certain, but the special skills required are as perishable as those early pioneers…