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fahnen/2.jpg Suitsat Readies for Operation
Launch Pad Return

SuitSat Readies for Operation on 145.990 MHz

Now is the time to begin preparing your amateur radio station to receive signals from SuitSat, the most unusual Amateur Radio satellite ever orbited. SuitSat amateur radio equipment will be installed inside a surplus Russian Orlan spacesuit. It will become an independently orbiting satellite once it is deployed by the crew of the International Space Station during an extravehicular activity, tentatively planned around December 8, 2005.
Astronaut Mike Fincke EVA
Expedition 9 Crewmember Mike Fincke in Orlan Suit during EVA

Running only on internal batteries within the spacesuit, SuitSat will have a limited, but interesting lifetime beaming down special messages and an SSTV image as it floats in space. Having no external thrust to adjust its orbit after it is hand-deployed during the EVA, SuitSat will be in a free-floating, but decaying orbit around Earth. It is expected to remain in orbit up to 6 weeks after being deployed.

Electronics Integration
SuitSat electronics undergoing bench testing and integration

The ARISS-Russia team headed by Sergei Samburov, RV3DR, first came up with the idea for SuitSat, and the concept was initially discussed extensively during the joint AMSAT Symposium/ARISS International Team meeting in October 2004. See the 2004 Symposium Updates for additional background information.

The project--called Radioskaf or Radio Sputnik was led by project manager A. P. Alexandrov and Deputy Project Manager A. Poleshuk from RSC Energia. On the US side, AMSAT Board member Lou McFadin, W5DID headed up the hardware project development. The SuitSat electronics were built and tested in Phoenix, AZ by a team lead by Steve Bible, N7HPR.

The photo above shows the systems laid out for bench integration. The photo below shows the modules that were carried aloft to the ISS on a Progress resupply mission that docked with on September 10, 2005.

Electroincs ready for transport
SuitSat Electronics ready for transport to the ISS

SuitSat's transmissions will include special international voice messages, spacesuit telemetry, and a pre-programmed SSTV picture on its 145.990 MHz FM downlink. If you have already received the packet station or heard the ISS crew on 2-meter voice, then you already have most of what you need. Amateur radio signals from the ISS can be received with a 2 meter vertical antenna so an elaborate tracking system is not necessary. The SSTV signal can be decoded with personal computer SSTV software after you connect your computer to the speaker output of your radio.

SuitSat in Flight Configuration
SuitSat after suit modifications

The image above shows SuitSat in it's flight configuration. You can see the electronics control panel on the top of the helmet along with the SuitSat antenna. A new handle has been added around the midsection of the suit (black stripes). The handle is an important addition that will allow the astro/cosmonaut launching the suit to move it safely.

Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, AMSAT Vice President of Human Spaceflight, and ARISS Chairman, says SuitSat's payload will also include a CD containing hundreds of school pictures, artwork, poems, and student signatures from schools all over the world--Japan/Asia, Europe, Russia, Canada, US, South America and Africa.

Frank continues, "Two identical CDs were flown into space. One will go in the suit, and the other will be for the crew to review. Using the crew CD, we hope to downlink these images using the SSTV system that will be located inside the Zvezda Service Module aboard the ISS once it is operational." Direct SSTV operation from the ISS will commence once the computer arrives in a future cargo delivery.

AMSAT Video News features Frank, KA3HDO, in a SuitSat presentation. See:

ARISS is an international educational outreach with US participation by ARRL, AMSAT and NASA.

[Thanks to JoAnne Maenpaa WB9JEJ and Emily Clarke W0EEC. SuitSat photographs by Steve Bible N7HPR and used by permission. EVA Photograph courtesy of NASA.]

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