Fox-1E... another AMSAT-NA failed satellite

Discussion in 'Satellite and Space Communications' started by WE4B, Jan 21, 2021.

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  1. WE4B

    WE4B Ham Member QRZ Page

    It’s time to, once again, speak of, yet, another AMSAT-NA failure. This time it was Fox-1E that was launched January 17, 2021 by Virgin Orbit.

    Like AO-95 which preceded Fox-1E in orbit, Fox-1E was DOA. To be totally correct, AO-95 could be heard but couldn’t hear signals from the ground whereas Fox-1E seems to be totally DOA.

    There has not been any communications from ‘leadership’ of AMSAT-NA about Fox-1E. This is the modus operandi for the organization. They always hope that if they just ignore the failures that nobody will care.

    The last three satellite opportunities for AMSAT-NA have resulted in zero out of three functional satellites with the three that proceeded them failing prematurely. AMSAT-NA has a problem with its engineering of satellites. I could understand one satellite failing but we now have a disturbing trend and members have NO communication from AMSAT-NA leadership.

    I am an AMSAT-NA member and one of the more vocal members. I’m not afraid to speak my mind and sign my name to what I wrote. AMSAT-NA members deserve much better than what they are getting from the current ‘leaders’. I am calling for current, legacy, incumbent Board members to resign and I am calling for the VPE to be removed from his position. After all, he’s not an engineer and there’s really no effective way for him to lead an engineering team. I am also calling for engineering team members to be re-vetted and possibly replaced. AMSAT-NA has limited funds and these continued failures are just eroding any money in the coffers.

    AMSAT-NA now finds itself in a very precarious situation. A history of failed satellites combined with a documented history of ‘leaders’ that are simply using the organization as a clubhouse have caused the membership to lose confidence.

    Yes, space is hard but a lack of ‘leaders’ that have integrity and leadership abilities have led to a #DownwardSpiral of the organization.

    I call for legacy, incumbent AMSAT-NA Board members to resign so that others can help to save the organization. If these legacy, incumbent Board members truly do care about keeping amateur radio in space the. They should do so for the good of the organization.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2021
    CT7ABD, VA7UO and VE3CGA like this.
  2. KD8DEY

    KD8DEY Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am a AMSAT-UK member....
    (Vote with your Dollars)
    AD5HR and WE4B like this.
  3. KE4AZZ

    KE4AZZ Ham Member QRZ Page

  4. KD8DEY

    KD8DEY Ham Member QRZ Page

  5. KC3RN

    KC3RN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Okay, so the last 3 Fox sats have failed. What was the track record of prior satellites? Not being a smart a$$. Just asking a sincere question.
  6. VE4MM

    VE4MM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Call Elon Musk. He can do anything. He has the money and the brains.
    WA9SVD and VA7UO like this.
  7. VK4GAP

    VK4GAP Ham Member QRZ Page

    RadFxSat-2 / Fox-1E Status Update – AMSAT

    Not Again the mind boggles WE4B ,
    Basically it says only the telemetry beacon is not working , they are looking into it but also ask that people track it and listen to see if they can hear it , AS IF the engineering team (who are the only ones that can fiddle with it remotely) will know if it's working or not and update the page accordingly with a "we fixed it"

    So in the meantime listen and track , don't actually read/visit the update page , do some hail marys and cross the sign instead , and its supposedly called science .
    ps - don't forget to send money in !

    Do you see my imo personal sarcasm ? or maybe i'm really just a Troll and don't know it .
    VE3CGA and WE4B like this.
  8. VK4GAP

    VK4GAP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Look them up , spoon-feeding is for Babies imo .
  9. K7WDO

    K7WDO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Doing a quick bit of Google-fu, the track record for AMSAT-NA seems to be between 3 and 8 years (not counting AO-7's "second life").

    AO-6 - 4.5 years (1972-77)
    AO-7 - 7 years (1974-81, then a 20 year nap before going solar-only from ~2002 to present)
    AO-8 - 5 years (1978-83)
    AO-10 - ~3 years+ (1983-86)
    AO-13 - 8 years (1988-1996)
    AO-40 - 3 years (2000-2004)
    AO-51 - 7 years (2004-2011)

    As for the end of mission causes, battery failure was the most common - AO-6, AO-7 (well, it's first life), AO-8, and AO-51. AO-10's on-board computer took radiation damage to where it eventually went "brain dead," lost attitude control and went intermittent. AO-40 was cut short by damage caused by a kick motor misfire after launch and a battery failure about three years later. AO-13 actually stayed operational all the way until re-entry.

    It certainly helps when you can learn from prior experience such as the lessons from AO-10 contributing to AO-13 lasting longer. FO-29's 20+ years in operation was built on the experience of its predecessors FO-12 (1986-89) and FO-20 (1990-96). The Fox sats were a new design (you could fit about 8 1U cubesats in AO-51 and that was way smaller than previous satellites like AO-7) so it's a bit of an apples to oranges comparison, but the rapid fire build and launch of the series didn't leave much opportunity to tweak the design as it got flight experience.
  10. WE4B

    WE4B Ham Member QRZ Page

    Members have repeatedly asked, begged actually, for AMSAT-NA to perform a failure analysis on the failed Fox satellites only to have those pleas fall on deaf ears. In fact, the VPE said that he simply didn't have time to do so. Members deserve better than that.

    As far as the life of satellites, it's not really fair to compare the non-Fox satellites to the Fox satellites as that would skew the results to a higher number. Here's the data for the Fox satellites:

    AO-85: Oct 2015-Dec 2019 which is 4 years 2 months. This was the first Fox and it was very deaf due to an antenna that was broken pre-launch but it did work
    AO-91 : Nov 2017-Dec 2020 which is 3 years 1 month
    AO-92: Jan 2018-Sep 2020 which is 2 years 9 months
    AO-95: DOA when it was placed in orbit. It transmits a beacon but is deaf and was never able to be commissioned for use
    HO-107: Not a true AMSAT-NA satellite but carried an AMSAT-NA transponder that died within a few days of being commissioned
    Fox-1E: Appears to be DOA upon entering orbit

    A good comparison to the Fox satellites would be AMSAT-UK/DL's AO-73 since it is also a 1U form factor cubesat. It was launched Nov 2013 and is still very much functional and is used by amateurs around the world on a daily basis. The command station of AO-73 has been aggressive with their management of the satellite and, by doing so, have optimized its batteries and its life. AMSAT-NA has never been aggressive with management of their orbital assets and, as history shows, they only take action when a satellite begins to fail. We all saw that most recently with AO-91 and AO-92.

    Now AMSAT-NA is going to rush to launch a GOLF satellite. IMHO, there needs to be a full-stop of any development until some very important questions can be answered. In fact, it would be wise to replace the VPE since members have NOT been given any real answers about any of the failed assets.

    Yes, we are amateurs, but that doesn't mean that we don't need operate AMSAT-NA professionally. In the real world, this many failures without explanations (backed-up by data) would result in the dismal of someone from a job. The same should apply with AMSAT-NA. I understand they are volunteers and I thank them for their service but it's time to move-on with some new blood and ideas. I call on all legacy, incumbent AMSAT-NA Board members to resign due to their complicity in keeping their unqualified 'buddies' in positions in which they aren't skilled to hold. The apathy of legacy, incumbent Board members has resulted in a haphazard program which has resulted in a disturbing trend of satellites that have failed prematurely or have failed to even operate. In my calling for the resignations, it's not personal. It's business. Members have lost faith in the program and AMSAT-NA is being ridiculed on social media. Check out the meme that's being shared on Reddit, Twitter and Facebook. This isn't the kind of press that AMSAT-NA needs. Members deserve much better! Here's the meme:

    VA7UO, KY1K, VE3CGA and 1 other person like this.

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