DLR rejects amateur radio P5-/Mascot-2 project

AMSAT-DL have released a statement regarding the P5-/Mascot-2 project:

Discussions with the German Ministry of Economics and the German  space agency DLR spanned more than 5 years. Amongst others, we met with  State Secretary for Space and Aerospace Hinze, DLR chairman Prof. Wörner and the DLR  Program Board.  In 2009 AMSAT-DL,  in collaboration with the DLR Institute for Space Systems in Bremen, conducted two complex Concurrent Engineering  studies. They were jointly presented to the DLR program board in Köln-Porz in  2010.

The final documentation confirmed the feasibility of the P5 project, both to  the Moon and to Mars.

In October and November 2011 another two P5 meetings with DLR  chairman Prof. Wörner, Ministry MinDirig Engelhard, representatives of DLR IRS  Bremen and AMSAT-DL BOD took place. Topics were feasibility and financing  model.  It turned out that the ministry had a different perception of the (DLR-) payloads. DLR was asked to reconsider their payloads.  Both AMSAT-DL BOD and  IRS Bremen left the meetings with positive  feelings.

Then it turned out that, since completion of the 2009 joint study,  the P5 scientific appeal is apparently no longer attractive. Therefore it  was jointly searched for modifications to regain a payload appeal that was attested in 2009.  AMSAT-DL proposed  landing part of the payload on Mars moon Deimos or Phobos. Our calculations showed that this is feasible with  reasonable effort. The landing would be a particularly unique feature of the P5  mission.

After repeated enquiries we received a letter from DLR at end of June  where they stated that “the DLR Program Board comes to the conclusion,  that pursuit of the P5 idea is infeasible and also financially  infeasible.” We repeatedly approached the DLR Program Board since then. The assertion was that any P5 mission will not fly with DLR: the scientific attraction  was, compared with the current Mars missions,  insufficient.

The primary reason for this is that the P5 MARS orbit is limited due  to the low-cost character of the mission. From this orbit no attractive  science is possible.  Obviously our  P5 mission is now compared with regular missions which cost hundreds of millions of Euro.

This rejection has a wide impact on AMSAT-DL. Activities of all  involved persons, including in the P3-E project, was shaped for years by the  P5 mission. It was assumed that P3-E was to be launched as part of the P5  mission. This path is obstructed now.

We maintain our contacts with the various launching agencies able to  launch P3-E into an appropriate orbit. The tremendous launching costs kept  us from more concrete talks so far. Just recently good contact with AMSAT  China (CAMSAT) was established. China has suitable launchers to bring  payloads into GTO. Moreover, China has discovered that amateur radio is a means  of motivating young people to technical university  studies.

Furthermore we are very actively exploiting a potential shared ride  of an amateur radio payload on a new geostationary satellite. We have  already submitted a formal project proposal. The satellite will be visible  from Europe. No antenna tracking will be necessary.

The big advantage of this  project is that due to the operational requirements of the primary payload,  our launching and commissioning is tied to the not too far  future. The 20m dish antenna at Bochum observatory was originally refurbished  and upgraded for the P5 mission and is presently used for Deep Space Mission and amateur radio purposes. The automatic reception of the STEREO A/B probes and data  transfer to NASA will continue.  In  collaboration with NASA and AMSAT-DL the modulation scheme will be changed to use Turbo coding. Both hardware and  software is currently being designed by AMSAT-DL and will be used by the partner STEREO receiving stations worldwide. Our funding application is  already approved. The project funding runs until the end of  2015.

The AMSAT-DL Marburg lab will be preserved at least in medium term to  be able to do work on P3-E and, should the situation arise, on the  transponder of the mentioned geostationary satellite.

We pursue a near-term meeting with all P5 project team members  to identify ways for a project continuation. The necessary procedures should  be coordinated then.

Although we regret the DLR refusal of the P5 project  (particularly because some DLR payload will not fly in any foreseeable time frame), and although  it places serious challenges to AMSAT-DL, this is not the cancellation of a  HEO amateur radio satellite. We will aggressively follow up all  potential possibilities. We hope to be able to report positively at the AMSAT-DL AGM in  autumn.

Since the Marburg University’s withdrawal from the ZEL, the  surrounding conditions have changed significantly, again.  However, we will  do everything we can do to get an amateur satellite launched into HEO.  We do trust in our volunteers and members.

Peter  Guelzow
Hartmut  Paesler
Michael R.  Lengruesser

The 16:9 HD video of the AMSAT-DL presentation given by Peter Guelzow DB2OS to the AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium can be downloaded from http://www.batc.tv/vod/AMSAT%20session%204.flv

Alternatively it can be viewed online by following these steps:
– Go to http://www.batc.tv/
– Click on “Film Archive”
– Select “AMSAT 2012” in the Category box and click on Select Category
– Select “04 – AMSAT-DL” in the Stream box and click on Select Stream
– Click the play button on the video player window