This Week in Space! February 3, 2006 – NASA Launches SuitSat-1 from ISS
Featured GIF courtesy NASA
This week in 2006, SuitSat-1, a decommissioned Russian spacesuit, was taken on a spacewalk from the International Space Station by cosmonaut Valeri Tokarev and astronaut Bill McArthur. The suit was then released and allowed to enter its own independent orbit. No doubt becoming one of the strangest satellites in history.
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That gave cosmonaut Sergey Samburov an idea: Maybe we can turn old spacesuits into useful satellites? SuitSat-1 was the first test of that idea.
SuitSat-1 was a Russian Orlan spacesuit equipped with three batteries, a radio transmitter and internal sensors to measure temperature and battery power.
The official designation for SuitSat was AMSAT-OSCAR 54, although it was nicknamed “Ivan Ivanovich” or “Mr. Smith.” The radio transmitter used a frequency of 145.990 MHz and the signal could be picked up by amateur radio astronomers on the ground.
Unfortunately, the batteries failed after only two orbits and Ivan Ivanovich burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere in September of that year. At the time, NASA was enthusiastic about SuitSat-1 and tried to get as many students in as many nations as possible to tune in to the suit’s broadcast.
Five years later, another ISS hand-launched satellite named SuitSat-2 was deployed and stayed in orbit for 154 days before reentry.