Winter 2009 Issue


The 2008 AMSAT Space Symposium
and Annual Meeting

By Keith Pugh, W5IU

In my last column I mentioned the 2008 AMSAT Space Symposium in Atlanta, Georgia. It occurred too late to make the last column deadline. Also, I nearly missed it this year due to a travel commitment with members of my church, but I managed to get there for the Saturday afternoon and evening sessions plus Sunday morning’s Field Ops Breakfast and other activities.
I usually attend the Board of Directors Meeting, but it was held before the symposium while I was still traveling with the church group. A new slate of officers was elected by the BOD, led by a new President, Barry Baines, WD4ASW. Barry is a long-time BOD member and has served in various capacities over the years. In my opinion, he is an excellent choice for the times. These are trying times for AMSAT with a turnover in engineering personnel, another re-location of the laboratory coming up, increasing pressure for a High Earth Orbit (HEO) satellite, and no affordable launch opportunities. Barry is forming teams to tackle these challenges and the effort is well under way.

I arrived as Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, AMSAT V.P. for Human Spaceflight and ARISS International Chairman was giving his presentation on ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station). This has been a good year for ARISS, with school contacts approaching the 400 mark since launch in 1998. Work is progressing satisfactorily on SuitSat II and other projects.
The Saturday banquet speaker was Dan Shultz, N8FGV. Dan has worked for many years on the Hubble Telescope and gave an absolutely fascinating account of Hubble’s history and preparations for the Hubble repair mission next year. Dan’s dry humor and knowledge kept the audience’s attention riveted on the topic and even kept me awake while I was suffering from a severe case of jet lag.

The annual Field Ops Breakfast was chaired by Gould Smith, WA4SXM, AMSAT V.P. of User Services, and was well attended. Gould outlined the progress made in 2008 and the plans for 2009. The AMSAT Field Ops are Area Coordinators who form the “first line” representing AMSAT at hamfests, radio club meetings, AMSAT nets, “Elmering,” and other functions. It is always a challenge for field ops to present a positive image to the amateur radio public and others regarding amateur satellites when the average ham thinks that satellites and satellite communications are beyond their comprehension and their pocket book. This is particularly difficult in these times of no affordable High Earth Orbit launches as well as no HEO satellites currently operational.

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