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SuitSat Status 2/23/06



All,

SuitSat-1/Radioskaf/AO-54---the mission that has captured the imagination of 
people and students around the world---is now a confirmed silent key.  The 
outreach, press requests and visibility of SuitSat was absolutely amazing and 
appears to be unprecedented for a ham radio event.  While the press requests are 
just now starting to wane, we expect that you will continue to see SuitSat 
status reports and pictures in magazines, websites and other literature over the 
next few months.  One metric which shows the interest---we had over 9 MILLION 
hits at the www.suitsat.org web site. Quite impressive indeed!!

Based on the reports we have received, the last confirmed reception of the 
SuitSat voice audio was on Saturday February 18 at 3:32 UTC by Bob King's 
station, VE6BLD in Canada.  The last confirmed telemetry was received by Richard 
Crow's station, N2SPI in the USA.  Richard copied the SuitSat-1 voltage dropping 
precipitously to a low of 18.3 volts before vehicle stopped transmitting.  I 
have included Richard's compiled telemetry document at the end of this e-mail.  
SuitSat-1 operated for over two weeks---much longer than the 4-9 day initial 
predictions.

Despite its much lower than expected signal strength, SuitSat-1 was heard by ham 
radio operators and school students around the world.  SuitSat's low signal 
strength required antennas with some gain.  Many, including me, heard SuitSat 
with a 3 element Arrow antenna attached to a handheld radio.  Another challenge 
to signal reception were the very deep fades due to the Suit rotation.  One 
great positive that came from these issues is that it challenged the ham radio 
community, worldwide, to improve their station receive capabilities so that they 
could pull every bit of signal from SuitSat.    

"Virtual Reception"

"Virtual reception" of the student messages, SSTV image and telemetry was made 
possible through SuitSat web sites and blogs that stored MP3 files from key ham 
radio stations around the world.  The SuitSat team thanks these system 
administrators as well as our international ham radio "detectives" that worked 
around the clock to receive the SuitSat signals and compile the telemetry. 

Some of the key websites that were instrumental in this mission included the 
www.suitsat.org website sponsored by Steve Dimse, K4HG, 
http://www.aj3u.com/blog/ sponsored by A.J. Farmer, AJ3U, and 
http://pd0rkc.ontwikkel.nl/ sponsored by Cor.  In addition, bulletins sent by 
Miles, WF1F, the AMSAT news/web page team---Emily, N1DID, JoAnne, WB9JEJ and 
many others around the world kept all of us informed while SuitSat operations 
unfolded.  As a result of these efforts and the efforts of our ham radio 
detectives, teams have identified the "secret words", the messages from students 
and Mr. Alexandrov, the SSTV image and the telemtry.

SuitSat Myths Debunked

There were reports that the Suit was non-operational and that the battery was 
frozen shortly after deployment.  This NEVER occurred.  As the telemetry has 
shown, temperatures within the Suit were a somewhat comfortable 12-16C during 
the entire mission.  So the "frozen battery" myth is just that--a myth.  

So is the early demise and resurrection of the SuitSat.  It was alive and 
operated flawlessly, except the signal strength issue, from the time the crew 
flipped the switches until the battery power was used up.  

Another potential myth is the statement that the radio output is 1-10 mW.  More 
precisely, the SIGNAL STRENGTH is much lower than expected.  It is entirely 
possible that the radio output could have been at 500 mW and the feedline, 
connector or the antenna caused the problem.   

SuitSat Signal Strength Issue Investigation

The SuitSat team is just starting to look at the potential causes of the vehicle 
low signal strength.  As described above, the cause was either an issue with the 
antenna, feedline, connectors, power amplifier of the radio, or some combination 
of the above.  As we conduct this investigation and start to learn information 
on the potential cause, we will provide public releases on this. 

SuitSat Educational Outreach

As was mentioned, many schools around the world have participated in SuitSat 
operations.  One example of this is the R. Tait McKenzie Public School in 
Almonte, Ontario.  Neil Carleton, VE3NCE, sent us this message:  "Thank you to 
the SuitSat team for the opportunity to have students involved in such an 
exciting space project.  Itís been a week of adventure, and Iím happy to report 
on the involvement of my class as part of our grade 6 science studies of space."  

The ARISS team also plans to harvest the substantial SuitSat downlinks obtained 
by the ham radio community to develop lesson plans for schools.  One great idea 
is to use the audio with the spin fades as well as the EVA release video to let 
students determine whether the spin rate slows down, speeds up or remains the 
same during the mission---a simple physics experiment using ham radio!  We have 
many other lesson plan ideas too.  

SuitSat Orbit Life

Prior to the SuitSat deployment, we received an orbit analysis which predicted a 
70-120 day orbital life for SuitSat.  This would put SuitSat deorbit around 
mid-April to early June.  The orbit life, of course, is dependent on the 
atmospheric drag that the satellite experiences.  More details will be provided 
as de-orbit approaches.

SuitSat Additional Object

An extra object has been observed to have detached from SuitSat and become its 
own satellite.  This object is most likely one of the SuitSat gloves or the 
Student CD which was attached on the outside of the Suit. 

SuitSat Visual Passes

There has been at least one visual of SuitSat.  You can see that on A.J. 
Farmer's blog.  Let us know if you see SuitSat.  I would expect you will need 
binoculars to see it.

SuitSat Accomplishment Summary

While the transmission part of the SuitSat experiment was not stellar, SuitSat-1 
has been tremendously successful in several areas.  Some of these successes 
include:

-We captured the imagination of students and the general public worldwide 
through this unique experiment
-The media attention to the SuitSat project was tremendous
-We have had well over 9 million internet hits on www.suitsat.org web site
-Our student's creative artwork, signatures and voices have been carried in 
space and are on-board the spacesuit---the students are now space travelers in 
the Suit as it circles the Earth.  This was a collaboration with the NASA 
Explorer Schools.
-The ARISS international team was able to fabricate, test and deliver a safe ham 
radio system to the ISS team 3 weeks after the international space agencies 
agreed to allow SuitSat to happen.  This was a tremendous feat in of itself. 

and most importantly,
-We successfully deployed an amateur radio satellite in a Spacesuit from the 
ISS, demonstrating to the space agencies that this can be safely done.  

The above engineering accomplishment will open new opportunities for small, low 
cost satellites in the future.

Special Certificate/Diploma

If you heard SuitSat, don't forget the special SuitSat certificate/diploma.  
Information on obtaining this certificate/diploma can be found on the AMSAT web 
site:  www.amsat.org

The Future

The AMSAT/ARISS team have been talking about a SuitSat-2.  Correcting the signal 
strength issue would be a top priority for this flight.  So would be a 
longer-term power generation device, like solar arrays.  As our thoughts mature 
on this, we will keep you informed of our plans.  

SuitSat-1/Radioskaf/AO-54  represented a space pioneering effort.  While we did 
not have total success, we captured the imagination of students and the general 
public worldwide.  And we have learned a lot from this activity.  This will help 
us and others grow from this experience.

On behalf of the AMSAT, ARISS and SuitSat teams, I thank you all for your help, 
encouragement and advice.

73,  Frank H. Bauer, KA3HDO
AMSAT-VP for Human Spaceflight Programs
ARISS International Chairman  


Telemtry from Richard N2SPI:

                         SuitSat SuitSat     SuitSat
 N2SPI  Telemetry        Mission Temperature Battery   File name for
 Update message heard @: Time in in Degrees  Voltage   source audio:
 Number Mo  Day Time UTC Minutes Celsius     (Volts)   (".wav" file)
 ------ --- --- -------- ------- ----------- -------- ----------------
       Feb   8 13:49:41  006607          12     26.-   8Feb1340z_telem
       Feb   9 12:37:29  0--967          --     -6.7   9Feb1237z_telem
     2 Feb  10 06:39:29  009-44          13     26.7  10Feb0639z_telem
     3 Feb  11 07:04:41  010501          --     26.7  11Feb0704z_telem
     4 Feb  11 11:50:53  010786          --     26.7  11Feb1153z_telem
     5 Feb  12 05:52:34  01--62          14     26.-  12Feb0552z_telem
     6 Feb  13 04:39:57  01-222          --     26.6  13Feb0439z_telem
     7 Feb  13 06:18:18  --3320          14     2-.6  13Feb0618z_telem
     8 Feb  14 05:05:24  0-4680          15     26.6  14Feb0505z_telem
     9 Feb  15 03:52:54  016040          --     26.5  15Feb0348z_telem
    10 Feb  16 04:18:32  0--49-          16     26.3  16Feb0411z_telem
    11 Feb  17 03:05:45  ------          --     25.2  17Feb0300z_telem
    12 Feb  17 10:59:42  0--3-9          15     18.3? 17Feb1057z_telem
 
 Pass1@ Feb 18 01:49:30          Nothing heard*
 Pass2@ Feb 18 03:22:45          Nothing Heard
 Pass3@ Feb 18 04:58:30          Nothing heard
 Pass4@ Feb 18 06:34:30          Nothing heard --- Farewell SuitSat-1!
 ------ --- --- -------- ------- ----------- -------- ----------------
----
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