More Satellite Hacking...
OSCAR III was the first communications satellite in history. Yes, real hackers, the people who donated their time and equipment and brain power to build it, surpassed all the giant communications companies.
Amsat continues to launch amateur-built satellites. For example, OSCAR-51 (Amsat-Echo) was launched on June 29, 2004 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on a Russian Dnepr LV. This launch vehicle is a slightly modified SS-18, the InterContinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) that in the bad old days was designed to lob nuclear bombs.
Amsat-Echo carries an FM repeater that can make 144MHz and 1.2GHz uplinks; and 435MHz and 2.4GHz downlinks. It also carries an AX.25 digital PACSAT BBS (bulletin board system) and a PSK31 uplink on 28MHz. The satellite is available to radio amateurs around the world for voice and data communications.
Amsat-Echo also runs Experimenter's Wednesday. Each Wednesday the satellite is commanded to a new mode of operation so that allows amateur radio operators may test their new equipment.
Amsat is able to afford these launches by building small, lightweight satellites, taking advantage of the goodwill they have won to get piggyback launches, and by working together to raise whatever money is needed to cover the costs.
For more information on Amsat satellites, see http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/satellites/history.php
*** How to Get Taken Seriously
You can't just talk the Amsat people into launching a satellite for you. You can't even join a design team unless you can show you are worthy of respect.
First of all, you need to become a hard-core amateur radio operator. A good start is to get the knowledge you need to pass the licensing tests, and aim for the highest level license available in your country. A good resource for learning how to get your licenses is available at http://www.arrl.org/hamradio.html
Beyond that, to become really hard core, you need a degree in engineering, ideally electrical engineering (EE) or aerospace engineering. To learn more about becoming an EE, see the international organization to which most EEs belong, the IEEE (http://www.ieee.org). They have student chapters and local groups in almost every nation and major city. If you feel stranded in your EE college program, if you are afraid you might not make it, you probably will be able to get help from a mentor in a local IEEE chapter. Also, local chapters are a great way to make friends.
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