My two cents on the Amateur Radio service with regards to activity in space:
(disclosure: I am a licensed operator SV1QVE and a member of the LSF board)
From our experience so far, running SatNOGS, running LSF (and its various projects), sending a satellite in space, interacting with IARU, ITU, AMSATs around the world and many many individuals and projects around those, I can safely say after all those years the taste that I have left is this of slight bitterness when it comes to radio amateur and space activities.
Interestingly this comes from both sides of the struggle, the “traditional radio amateur users and organizations” and the “orgs taking advantage or misinterpreting radio amateurism for free license and free help.” I am oversimplifying, but it helps with the conceptualization. I think that both of those groups are missing some of the bigger picture around radio amateur in space.
The two dynamics
More specifically, the first group (the “traditionalists”) generally have a pretty archaic definition of what “amateur radio service” means, expecting most of the time the same old concepts from new missions. “You don’t have a transponder? We don’t consider you a real radio amateur mission.” Their passion around getting more “services” is such that they often prioritize it at the expense of other core ideals to radio amateurism (like access to knowledge, maker-spirit, etc.). We have seen this again and again from orgs sacrificing any openness around their projects to get something in space (recent OSCAR examples are more than enough for my point).
On the other hand, we have an almost exponentially growing number of orgs (universities, for-profits, non-profits, research groups, etc.) that are literally hijacking radio amateur frequencies, promising the absolute bare minimums that can get them an IARU coordination, and then never delivering on them. At the same time, IARU, for the most part, looks the other way (unfortunately). Since the inception of SatNOGS, we have been documenting many of those abuses and will start flagging them and being more pro-active around them soon (that’s a topic for another thread).
A new hope
In parallel to those two detrimental dynamics, we see an inspiring growth of awareness around openness (open source and open data projects) with regards to space-related radio amateur projects. Besides LSF projects that all abide by the LSF Manifesto (which we believe captures the essence for what we want in space), we see new missions and new projects spawning, sharing, collaborating, and re-writing the status quo of what radio amateur space missions mean. Open hardware, orbit determination using RF, propagation tests, new modulations and encodings openly implemented and tested, and so many other bright ideas for the way forward. Those are the projects I want to see flourish, and those are the projects LSF is determined to support (obviously through SatNOGS too).
In the meantime, we will need to stay vigilant, document openly every usage of radio amateur service, provide feedback, pressure teams, and missions, act as a driving force, and nurture a community that has precisely this kind of discussion publicly.
As for the more practical aspects of SatNOGS policy towards all these, more detailed posts will follow, but it is safe to assume that our guiding principles will remain unchanged. If anything, I urge us to be more vocal and active on safeguarding radio amateurism (and more broadly for LSF openness in space).