SuitSat still speaking

1 min read

Amateur radio enthusiasts say that they can still pick up a weak signal from the old Russian spacesuit released into orbit from the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday.

Previously, NASA had reported that SuitSat stopped transmitting hours after its send off. However, it still seems to be broadcasting its looped programme of radio messages in six languages.

Members of the Connecticut-based American Radio Relay League (ARRL) report picking up a feeble signal on SuitSat’s 145.99MHz frequency. The group says the evidence points to a problem with the antenna fixed to the spacesuit's helmet or the wires linking the electronics.

Nicknamed Ivan Ivanovich after an early Russian test flight dummy, SuitSat was launched from ISS during a spacewalk by crewmembers Bill McArthur and Valery Tokarev. It is a rough and ready test of whether old spacesuits can be converted into useful satellites.

In a scene reminiscent of Space: 2001, the suit, fitted with a radio, sensors and batteries and padded out with old clothes, has been spinning slowly in space, limbs akimbo, since its release. Its initial orbit matched that of ISS, but it is gradually descending and will burn up in Earth’s atmosphere within two weeks.