Former President and CEO of AMSAT, and Amateur Satellite Pioneer Tom Clark, K3IO, SK

“His long-standing technical achievements, mentoring others and technical leadership will be lacking in his many peers and friends around the world,” said Bob McGuire, N4HY. In honor of Clark, AMSAT rebranded its upcoming annual gathering as 2021 AMSAT Dr. Tom Clark, K3IO, Memorial Space Symposium and Annual General Meeting. It will take place on October 30 via Zoom. (AMSAT members can register for attendance through the AMSAT Membership and Event Portal.) The event will be broadcast live on the AMSAT YouTube channel.

Founder of Tucson Amateur Packet Radio (TAPR), Clark is the co-founder of the TAPR / AMSAT DSP project, which led to software-defined radio (SDR). He was a leader in the development of the AX.25 packet radio protocol. Clark served as the second president of AMSAT from 1980 to 1987. He also served on the boards of AMSAT and TAPR. In 2005, Clark became the first non-Russian to be awarded a gold medal by the Russian Academy of Sciences for his contribution to the VLBI international network. He was a member of the 2001 class in CQ Magazine’s Amateur Radio Hall of Fame.

Clark received his doctorate in astrogeophysics from the University of Colorado. He continued to serve as head of the astronomical branch at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and was a senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, where he was principal investigator of space long-range basic interferometry (VLBI) there. In 2016, ARRL awarded Clark with its President’s Award to recognize his 60 years of advancement in amateur radio technology. On this occasion, McGuire said: “There would be no AMSAT to inspire all this work without Tom Clark. Tom saved the organization and inspired us all to look to the future and strive for the stars. ”

“We started the TAPR / AMSAT DSP project and it was announced in 1987,” McGuire said. “We have shown in our efforts that small stations with small antennas can bounce signals from the moon, and using the power of DSP, we can see the signals in computer displays.” This led to a software-defined transponder (SDX) for satellite operation, including ARISSat and AMSAT Phase 3E. In collaboration with McGwier, Clark developed the first amateur digital signal processing (DSP) hardware, including a number of modems. He developed receivers for the spacecraft’s uplink and LAN architecture used on all microsatches (AMSAT-OSCAR 16, Dove-OSCAR 17, WEBERSAT-OSCAR 18, LUSAT-OSCAR 19, Italy-OSCAR 26, AMRAD- OSCAR 27 and TMSAT-OSCAR 31). McGuire said it was Clark who convinced him in 1985 that the future lay in the DSP.

Clark was a member of the American Geophysical Union and the International Geodesy Association.

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