ARISSat-1’s predecessor: SuitSat-1
With all the attention given to ARISSat-1, I was surprised that not many are talking about what started it all. SuitSat-1 was launched off the ISS in the same manner as ARISSat-1 on Febuary 3, 2006. SuitSat-1 was aptly named for a Russian Orlan spacesuit that was to be discarded because it was unserviceable and excess cargo on the ISS. The innovative and industrious Ham community decided that it would be such a waste to simply discard it when it could be made into, you guessed it, at Amateur Radio satellite!
Mix one part transmitter, one part space suit, a dash of antenna, and a little power and poof, SuitSat-1 was born. Ok, I am over simplifying it a bit but this recipe sparked the imagination of thousands of people. Amateurs around the world was on the hunt for the very weak and elusive signal. With a transmitter power of 1/2 watt and a rate of rotation of about 5.2 s the fade was deep and difficult to copy. Hams with high gain antennas were about the only ones able to copy the telemetry and SSTV images. SuitSat-1 was not designed for long term operations like the new ARISSat-1. When SuiSat-1’s battery went dead, that was it. Just a lonely quiet ride around the Earth. SuitSat-1’s orbit lasted 7 months, 3 days or 215 Days. The suit had a large surface area and my hopes are that ARRISat-1 will stay in orbit much longer than that. I haven’t seen any real predictions about how long it will stay in an usable orbit but I am sure there are some rocket scientists crunching the numbers.
To find out more about SuitSat-1 check these out:
AJ3U’s blog (submissions of audio, SSTV images and reception reports)