SuitSat Casual Day Satellite Update
SuitSat, a Russian Orlan spacesuit, will be tossed overboard from the International Space Station, becoming a satellite of the Earth. The intent of the experiment is to see if old spacesuits can be turned into useful satellites.
(Earth's Newest Satellite)
Described as a "Russian brainstorm" by NASA's Frank Bauer, the SuitSat will have three batteries, a radio transmitter and internal sensors to measure temperature and battery power. It will transmit its condition to the ground.
Update: 28-Jan-2006: The SuitSat is shown below being readied for its mission. On February 3rd, commander Bill McArthur and flight engineer Valery Tokarev will step outside the ISS for a space walk, deploying the SuitSat.
SuitSat can be heard at 145.990 MHz FM by anyone on the ground (with a good enough antenna); NASA's J-Pass utility will let you know when to expect SuitSat over your town. "This is SuitSat-1, RSORS" should be heard every thirty seconds, along with a prerecorded greeting. Telemetry data are also available. Additional fun features are planned for students and teachers; see the SuitSat site for details
With its temperature controls turned off to conserve power, arms and legs akimbo and spinning out of control, the SuitSat will be deployed on February 3rd. It is expected to remain in orbit for approximately six weeks before burning up in the atmosphere.
I can't help but think of the last time a similar situation came up, it was in 1968 in the film 2001:A Space Odyssey. Hapless astronaut Frank Poole's ill-considered remarks within range of HAL-9000's visual sensors doomed him to a similar fate.
(New jovian moon Poole chased by pod)
As far as I know, the first reference to a "space-suit" is E.E. "Doc" Smith's 1928 novel Skylark of Space:
DuQuesne reported briefly to the two girls. All three put on space-suits and crowded into the tiny airlock. The lock was pumped down.
Find out more about SuitSat at NASA and the SuitSat site.
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