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SuitSat Not Looking Good So Far

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the back-to-the-drawing-board dept.

Space 95

Hulboy writes "According to the SuitSat website, things aren't going well for the makeshift satellite in it's first few hours. 'Reports of nothing heard from Israel, Turkey, South Africa, and two negative reports from Japan as well as the weak report below. JH3XCU reports signal only heard in SSB mode, TX cycle and doppler detectable, but no modulation... this is not looking good.'

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Why the space program is failing (0, Troll)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641476)

This is why the space program is failing, they can't even launch satellites now. They had to resort to dumping an old space suit, but they didn't even manage to do that right. Yeeesh.

Here's to hoping China or Russia can do a better job.

NOTE: You may want to get an engineer to take a look at your humour chip if you take this post seriously.

Re:Why the space program is failing (0)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641520)

This is why the space program is failing, they can't even launch satellites now. They had to resort to dumping an old space suit, but they didn't even manage to do that right. Yeeesh.

Yesh, they don't even know how to send out the laundry right. No Good Spacekeeping Seal for them!

Here's to hoping China or Russia can do a better job.

I do hope that wasn't a veiled reference to chinese laundry, after the Cartoon uproar, slashdot could bearly withstand the assault of 1.4 billion chinese posting their displeasure at a bigoted stereotypical view of chinese.

Re:Why the space program is failing (1)

cnelzie (451984) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641581)

I think you are crazy. I didn't see anything like that in the parent post.

    Maybe you should stop drinking so much of the Politically Correct Kool-Aid, since it seems to have incredibly skewed your perception of everything around you.

Two things... (4, Interesting)

DaedalusLogic (449896) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641607)

It is the ISS (Internaional Space Station)

The suit is an old Russian space suit.

So take your comment and cram it... I also hate that everyone presumes that when smart people conduct an experiment that they expect a successful result. Anyone who has worked in research can tell you that is just flat out wrong. I've had projects go completely wrong and still learned a great many things from them. It's like Edison's remark about knowing a multitude of new ways NOT to manufacture a lightbulb... It's just as important in making the journey to accomplish the goal successfully.

Ban The Bulb ;) (1)

AddressException (187785) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641918)

I think the way Edison settled on wasn't exactly the best way TO make a lightbulb. []

Re:Two things... (0, Troll)

Wes Janson (606363) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641947)

This wasn't an "experiment" this was "throwing a radio out an airlock as a PR stunt". The fact that they failed at even something that simple is rather sad.

Re:Two things... (4, Insightful)

Plunky (929104) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641985)

This wasn't an "experiment" this was "throwing a radio out an airlock as a PR stunt". The fact that they failed at even something that simple is rather sad.

Incredibly, you are wrong!

1. If this was an experiment to see what would happen, then thats ok - they found that out!

2. If this was a publicity stunt, thats ok too.. This is the publicity!

Re:Two things... (1)

ancientt (569920) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642098)

Hate to say it, but I'm with Plunky.

Experiment: "Say, George, whadda ya think would happen if we tossed this suit out the airlock?"
"Dunno Fred, lets find out."
- result: Now we know.

Overheard at NASA by the coffee:
... "Nah, nobody'd care about it."
[other voice] "Not if we just tossed it, but turn down the wattage on the transmitters and news reporters will be all over how it is 'failing' and viola, free publicity. Of course we get to say that it seems to be working but was never intended to be a serious scientific effort, we were just trying to do something nice for the kids."
[first voice] "I'm with you now. Okay, call George back and tell him we changed our minds, but we have to do some PR before he can toss the thing."

Re:Two things... (1)

Noodlenose (537591) | more than 8 years ago | (#14643767)

"......and viola, free publicity"

I presume you mean "Voilà" and not that string instrument played by rather dull humans?

Nevertheless one could argue that there would be even more free publicity if there would be a viola within the suit.


Re:Two things... (1)

fatboy (6851) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642273)

This wasn't an "experiment" this was "throwing a radio out an airlock as a PR stunt". The fact that they failed at even something that simple is rather sad.

Do you know who "they" are?

"They" are amateurs (AMSAT) [] , not NASA or the Russian Space Agency.

Re:Two things... (2, Insightful)

grumling (94709) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642058)

Sort of like the experiment conducted by Cramerica Corporation in the mid 90's to test the viability of a beach ball oil containment system by tossing a ball of motoroil out the 5th story window of a Mahattan highrise. The test was unsuccessful (I believe the head researcher was quoted as saying "Well, that didn't work."), and there were minor injuries, but at least we all know for sure that a beach ball is not a good backup containment system for oil tankers.

Re:Two things... (2, Informative)

prichardson (603676) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642079)

Edison deserves little of the credit he has today. Basically, he had a factory full of people to test for him so he could issue a lot of patents (sound familiar?).

"Invention is 10% inspiration, 90% perspiration." -Thomas Edison

"Perhaps if Edison thought a little smarter he wouldn't sweat so much." - Tesla (supposedly)

Ignorance is bliss (4, Informative)

hausmaus (684529) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642909)

Evidently most of the people who've replied on here don't have a clue about amateur radio either. A big part of amateur radio is experimentation and if it doesn't work, you figure out why and do it again. Hopefully with your adjustments, corrections and redesigns your experiment will become a working item. After all, how do you think all the neat modes in amateur radio were developed? Trial and error.

Most /.ers have no clue about working QRP (low power radio)-I mean, the thing is miles above earth transmitting on 500mW of power. Some personal stereos put out more power than that.

But, if anyone checks, there's another unused spacesuit and more equipment on the ISS. Oh, by the way, it's ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) [] that did this, not NASA.

If people RTFA and do a little more reading about the news stories [] , they just might notice little things.

It's amazing how stupid most of these people on /. are about anything that doesn't have to do with Linux or MP3s.

Re:Why the space program is failing (2, Funny)

AlterTick (665659) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641849)

NOTE: You may want to get an engineer to take a look at your humour chip if you take this post seriously.

Might want to have your humor chip looked at. One way to tell when your joke is utterly lame is if even you feel the need to put "P.S. The above is a joke" at the end.

Re:Why the space program is failing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14642073)

P.S. The above is an attempted joke

Re:Why the space program is failing (1)

AlterTick (665659) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642249)

P.S. The above is an attempted joke

Actually it wasn't, but the above is.

I hope there wasn't a monkey or (0)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641481)

some other lab animal.. that would really suck if we couldn't talk to them during their final descent.

Re:I hope there wasn't a monkey or (3, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641503)

some other lab animal.. that would really suck if we couldn't talk to them during their final descent.

"What they say?"


Re:I hope there wasn't a monkey or (1)

the_macman (874383) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641544)

nice star wars reference ;)

Don't worry. It is only.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14641505)


Re:Don't worry. It is only.... (1)

Mike Savior (802573) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641832)

I didn't know Real Networks had in on this project.

Re:I hope there wasn't a monkey or (5, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641536)

No, but apparently it had one of those "Hello from planet Earth!" CDs. I'm not sure why. :^P
Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, AMSAT Vice President of Human Spaceflight, and ARISS Chairman, says SuitSat's payload will also include a CD containing hundreds of school pictures, artwork, poems, and student signatures from schools all over the world--Japan/Asia, Europe, Russia, Canada, US, South America and Africa.
Maybe the RIAA thought it had pirated MP3 files and shot it down?

Re:I hope there wasn't a monkey or (1)

SleepyHappyDoc (813919) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642163)

Was it a Sony CD? :P

Re:I hope there wasn't a monkey or (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14645500)

Of course. Standard protocol. That way when some alien armada finds a probe and follows it home, their ships all have the rootkit, and can be pwned with an old Mac laptop.

Re:I hope there wasn't a monkey or (1)

blindseer (891256) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642750)

No, but apparently it had one of those "Hello from planet Earth!" CDs. I'm not sure why. :^P

Agreed. I can imagine what the teacher said to the class as they were about to create the pictures and poems to put on the disk. "Now, class, we are going to make history here so do your best. I want NASA to have the best examples of your creativity for a CD to be destroyed as it enters the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds and is reduced to its component elements as it lands somewhere in the middle of the ocean."

Re:I hope there wasn't a monkey or (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14645486)

Kind of a shame that it'll be destroyed in a few weeks. Perhaps someone should make a Best Of Earth CDs compilation album and send it with the next launch that's going somewhere less terminal?

BTW, it'll probably reenter over ocean (since there's so much of it), but without thrusters or control, it'll burn where and when it's good and ready.

Re:I hope there wasn't a monkey or (1)

MooUK (905450) | more than 8 years ago | (#14643659)

The stupidest thing about that CD is that any intelligent species will have an awful time trying to work out how to read it - if they even recognise it as a data source. Even more than just something written in plain text (since they have to read the CD, and THEN decipher the contents too)

Re:I hope there wasn't a monkey or (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14645521)

If they can't figure out what the disc is and how to read it, then they're not t337 enough to talk to us.

It's a conspiracy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14642191)

"I don't know what happened to that drunken cosmonaut, the last thing he said was he's going for a walk..."

Re:I hope there wasn't a monkey or (1)

belloc (37430) | more than 8 years ago | (#14643144)

I hope there wasn't a monkey...

But on the bright side, if there was, it would give Karl [] something true to talk about for a change.

Mostly because... (0)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641489)

Mrs. Jetson washed it instead of drycleaning!

More informative links... (5, Informative)

max99ted (192208) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641496)

...since the linked article is a whole 5 sentences:

The suit itself: at/index.php []

People that heard suitsat - looks like it went offline about 1hr 15min into flight. []

SuitSat is still Operational (2, Informative)

stellar (195075) | more than 8 years ago | (#14644134)

The following update was posted to the AMSAT Bulletin Board and now appears on the AMSAT HomePage [] .

SuitSat Status 4 Feb 2005
---For Immediate Release---

Silver Spring, Maryland
4 February 2006 at 22:00 UTC

Paraphrasing Mark Twain....the demise of SuitSat-1 is high exaggerated!!

It is now nearly 24 hours since the successful deployment of the SuitSat-1
experiment. These past 24 hours have been a wild ride of
emotions...tremendous highs...deep lows when people reported no signals and
said SuitSat-1 was dead and now....some optimism.

It is absolutely clear that SuitSat-1 is alive. It was successfully turned
on by the ISS crew prior to deploy and the timing, micro-controller
functions and audio appear to be operating nominally. The prime issue
appears to be an extremely weak signal.

I have heard several recordings and have monitored two passes today. When
the signal is above the noise level, you can clearly hear partials of the
student voices, the station ID and the SSTV signal. One of the
complicating factors in reception is the very deep fades that occur due to
the spin of SuitSat.

Based on the information we know thus far, one can narrow down the issue to
the antenna, the feedline, the transmitter output power and/or any of the
connections in between. Through your help, we would like to narrow down
the issue further and also gather some internal telemetry from the
Suit. If the transmitter is running at full power, we would expect the
Suit to end operations in the next few days to a week. If it is not, then
it will operate much longer. Since we do not know how long this experiment
will last, we ask for those with powerful receive stations to listen for
Suitsat---especially during direct overhead passes when the Suit is closest
to your area. If you can record these passes and send the audio to us, it
would be most appreciated. We will continue to be optimistic that this
issue will right itself before the batteries are depleted. So please KEEP

Based on what we have learned, we would like to provide the following
guidelines to save you time and facilitate gathering information.
1) You need as high a gain antenna as possible with mast mounted
pre-amps. An arrow is the minimal provides very brief snipets of
the communications. HTs and scanners won't cut it.
2) I would not waste your time on passes below 40 degrees
elevation. SuitSat is too far from your station to receive a reliable
signal. We have found that closest approach provides several seconds of
SuitSat communication with 22 element yagis.
3) The "gold" we are looking for right now is the telemetry information
and how long the vehicle stays operational. So if you hear any of the
telemetry, please let us know.

We are also working to get the voice repeater set up on ISS to downlink
SuitSat audio on 437.80 in the event that the ISS Kenwood radio can receive
the SuitSat transmissions. The repeater may be operational as early as
mid-day Sunday. Please do NOT transmit on 145.99, voice or packet, until
we have confirmed that SuitSat is no longer transmitting. These
transmissions interfere with our ability to hear SuitSat.

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

-We have captured the imagination of students and the general public
worldwide through this unique experiment
-The media attention to the SuitSat project represents one of the biggest
ever for amateur radio
-We have had well over 2 million internet hits on today
-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
as the Suit rotates and orbits the Earth
-Carried in the spacesuit CD are pictures of Roy Neal, K6DUE, and Thomas
Kieselbach, DL2MDE, two of our colleagues who have contributed to the ARISS
program and have since passed away
-We successfully deployed an amateur radio satellite in a Spacesuit from
the ISS, demonstrating to the space agencies that this can be safely done.
-This 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.

SuitSat-1/Radioskaf is a space pioneering effort. Pioneering efforts are
challenging. Risk is high. But the future payoff is tremendous. As you
have seen, we have not had total success. But we have captured the
imagination of the students and the general public. And we have already
learned a lot from this activity. This will help us and others grow from
this experience.

Keep your spirits up and let's continue to be optimistic. And please keep

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

Re:More informative links... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14644357)

I'm guessing still no evidence of Iraqi wmds either?

Altairian Confederation (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14641497)

Oh. We thought it was trash and scooped it up. Sorry. We'll drop it off somewhere the next time we're back to probe some rednecks.

Re:Altairian Confederation (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14643457)

This wouldn't be too off from the mark. The Satsuit was filled with trash. Trash disposal is a bit of a problem on the ISS (you can't just dump it out the airlock, it has to be tracked), and the people onboard saw this as a good opportunity to get rid of some of the backlog.

Not going well? Not going at all. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14641499)

Two orbits and it was fucked.

My bet: there was something aboard ISS that was unsafe (alien maybe, bad yogurt experiment, etc) that needed to be dumped ... why not stuff it in a suit, put some weak radio shit in there, and ... call it an EXPERIMENT!!! For the science and the children!! Think of the children!!!!!

  confirm you're not a script,
please type the word in this image:"tiring" ... got that right.

Re:Not going well? Not going at all. (3, Interesting)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641620)

Two orbits and it was fucked.

This wasn't the most scientific mission possible, but instead something people thought would be fun. It was kicked out the door of the ISS, basically, which means the trajectory wasn't exactly guaranteed. There was no way to ensure that it wasn't going to get hit by orbital debris -- a paint fleck on one extremity would have at least sent it spinning and significantly altered its course -- or even that it would be in something resembling a stable orbit, even for a few days.

Re:Not going well? Not going at all. (4, Informative)

Clueless Moron (548336) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642684)

a paint fleck on one extremity would have at least sent it spinning and significantly altered its course

Low earth orbit velocity is 7800m/s. The most likely, and worst way, to get hit by a paint fleck is to get hit by one in the same orbit but in the opposite direction, which would be a delta vee of 2*7800m/s.

Let's be really generous and say a paint fleck weighs 1g and hits the suitsat (say 100kg) dead on. By conservation of momentum, the suit's velocity will decrease from 7800m/s to... 7799.844 m/s.

In other words, it'll still be at 99.998% of it's original velocity. I won't bother calculating how little the fleck could have affected the spin, because it's not like the suit was spin stabilized to begin with. Spin fade was expected to begin with. The only significance of the fleck is that it would cause the suit to (slowly) depressurize, but more importantly possible trash the equipment if it was in the way.

My guess is that since the equipment wasn't really designed for this kind of orbital abuse: the nasty temperature shift between night and day just caused caused some circuitry to fail from thermal expansion. Or perhaps the suit leaked; the equipment wasn't designed to work in a hard vacuum.

Re:Not going well? BS - Going as Planned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14641626)

Either that or the military just wanted to see if they could track something as small as a man in order to rescue it or shoot it down. If A = B, then B = A, get it? If the military can accurately track a single spacesuit in orbit then they can, from orbit, track a person on the ground. A single person. Same weather, same radio noise, same visuals, just at a different end of the transmission. That's why I think the radio bit is a sham. They're tracking *visually*. There hasn't been any real science done up there in ages and NASA is scraping the bottom of the barrel thinking of bogus science ideas to give cover to military tests like the "suit sat." But then, that was always what the ISS was about.

I applaud the obscenely rich people who went to ISS. Their demonstration of demand for space tourism will eventually destroy the government's stranglehold on LEO space travel and put it in the hands of the people who are paying anyway. I also applaud the military; they're doing what we're paying them to do. I just don't like the weak, visionless monsters we keep electing (from either "party") to control the military and govern us. Something about the difference between a politician and a statesman, between "govern" and "herd."

But then, we asked for it.

Re:Not going well? BS - Going as Planned (1)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642026)

my friend, we have been tracking stuff smaller (as small as 10 cm) than a space suit for a long time !! USSTRATCOM []

Re:Not going well? BS - Going as Planned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14643062)

Tracking stuff is not the same as tracking *specific* stuff amongst a cloud of other stuff, again, like a specific person. I don't think the generalized "we've been tacking..." comment is relavent here. I know we have been able to do this. I also know people don't follow mathematically definable orbits (except perhaps when being observed by a Philosopher or an Economics wonk.)

It all might be correct, of course. That would make suitsat a ridiculous bit of grandstanding by an overly bureaucratic federal agency watching itself lose mindshare in a population conditioned to think it's going to be blown up by terrorists at any moment. What's the point of dreaming about the stars then? Hmmm?

Where could we go with half a trillion dollars? Hmmm? That's what we'll be taxed so my alleged President can clean up the shit on the carpet left by his daddy and Uncle Ronny (As well as by those responsible for the Post-WWI arbitrary slicing up of the Mid-East with no regard for its history or its people who, by the way, have all suffered enough for my right to gas up for a buck a gallon.) And none of that conspriracy bullshit. It isn't a conspiracy; but it *is* all connected. As is obvious to anyone who really has dreamt about the stars.

Well, I managed to take that one pretty far afield, huh? As long as you're so quick with the links today perhaps you could post a few to visual light images of some of that stuff the Air Force is so proud about being able to track. Something smaller than a disintegrating Space Shuttle, please. I'd really like to see some. Really. For all the bragging they do about it I don't think they've ever really proved it to Jack and Jill Taxpayer.

Re:Not going well? BS - Going as Planned (1)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642092)

and BTW if you read this NASA [] press release it says that the SuitSat idea was "Russian Brainstorm" to do something with all the old Soviet spacesuits laying around (I assume as a money making venture) this does not have much of a conspiracy theory feel to it IMHO, but I guess one could say that "In Soviet Russia the Spacesuit wears You !!"

Re:Not going well? Not going at all. (1)

ozbird (127571) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642895)

The should rename it the unsuitable satellite.

SuitSat tracking (2, Informative)

Fulg (138866) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641500)

Help them out here: []

Re:SuitSat tracking (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641528)

Help them out here: []

If they can't pick it up on their spendy spendy equipment, what chance do I have?

Heck, I couldn't even look for it with my scope, damn fog moved in as soon as the clouds left.

Re:SuitSat tracking (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641575)

When it's passing over, it's not that far away. Even with a few watts transmission, a reasonable receiver or scanner and antenna on 145.990 MHz FM and the right time would have been enough. (They figured a handheld would be fine when it's right overhead.) It's not radio astronomy science after all.

Re:SuitSat tracking (1)

billybaloney (244293) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641616)

It'll be over NYC in ten minutes or so...I'll set an alarm to look out the window. Too bad we can't just ping.

Re:SuitSat tracking (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642369)

How's that going work in the daytime? (And Weather Underground says you've got clouds.) When I said it passed over close, I didn't mean quite that close... Well, if you see it, give it a wave back for me.

Re:SuitSat tracking (1)

M1FCJ (586251) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642446)

This morning at 6:00UT I picked up ISS packet radio on 145.800 but Suitsat was silent. It was fairly easy, I was using a basic Yaesu handheld and a three element yagi held by hand. I probably could pick it up using a scanner with rubberduck, signal strength of the packet on ISS was very good.

Re:SuitSat tracking (1)

sharkman67 (548107) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641712)

Been up for the last 20 hours getting ready/looking for Suitsat. Got 3 radios on 145.99, two verticles and a beam. Got two recorders on and two SSTV programs running looking for an image.
Hope the batteries warm up and we get something. Nothing hear on the last pass (10 min ago). But got some faint reception on earlier passes. It's not dead!
Hopefully will get something on the next overhead pass!

Ahoy hoy (0, Offtopic)

Elitist_Phoenix (808424) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641557)

No, you have the wrong number. This is four-two-FOUR-six. I suspect you need more practice working your telephone machine. Not at all. Ahoy!

Hope for another chance (1)

AndyKron (937105) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641630)

I hope they get another chance to try again. I had my scanner all ready to hear the SuitCast. I don't have an iPod to download it to, though. Just my PodBrain. (1)

Kaetemi (928767) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641656)

"Current thinking is SuitSat is transmitting, but far weaker than expected. Several reliable reports of short snatches of the voice and SSTV signals have been reported. It is recommended that you continue to listen during passes over your area."

No signal? (2, Funny)

Monkeys!!! (831558) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641664)

Blame the airhead that is controlling the damn thing.

Nothing copied in New England (1)

Announcer (816755) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641694)

I had my PC monitoring for the SSTV image, but got nothing but two frames of static. According to the WEBsite, it was supposed to flyby this area at 1am and 4am.

I am disappointed that it seems to already be malfunctioning. I imagine that the kids in those schools around the world are even more upset.

Another piece of junk (0)

FridayBob (619244) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641695)

... to keep track of. Great. Perhaps in the future we should be more careful with the things we put into orbit. Every time we do something trivial like this, it means cleaning it all up later is going to be that much more difficult.

Re:Another piece of junk (3, Insightful)

DoctorStarks (736111) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641837)

Every time we do something trivial like this, it means cleaning it all up later is going to be that much more difficult.

The ISS is in a low enough orbit (~400km) that this thing will not be there for very long. The odds of it causing a problem before it re-enters are very very small. At most, it will "only" take a few years to re-enter.

It's the stuff that gets left higher up that poses real risk, hence the change in attitude about blowing things up when you are done with them, and the desire to save fuel on spacecraft with propulsion to facilitate a controlled re-entry if possible (although that is also for safety reasons with big stuff that might hit somebody).

Re:Another piece of junk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14641871)

except this thing isnt in a stable orbit, its going to burn up in the atmosphere after a while.

Re:Another piece of junk (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641872)

Umm, it's likely to just de-orbit and burn up within a few days to a couple of weeks. It's hardly going to sit there forever is it?

Re:Another piece of junk (4, Informative)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642770)

The SuitSat is not a problem ... really. It's in an unstable LEO, probably tumbling all over the place, impacting all sort of other small debris. If anything, it'll clean a little bit of the crap out of its way as it comes down and burns up.

Now, if you want to talk about dangerous space junk, where you want to look is up in the higher orbits, the so-called "nuclear safe" ones. The Soviets had a series of spy satellites that (because they didn't want to have big solar panels on them in such low orbits) had nuclear reactors. Not RTGs, honest to god liquid-metal cooled nuclear reactors. They had a system to eject the reactor cores into high orbits before the satellites re-entered (which sometimes didn't work -- one of them contaminated quite a bit of Northern Canada). But even when the systems did work, the result was a rather largish chunk of very radioactive material in high orbit.

I'm sure there is probably a lot of other dangerous junk floating around out there, too. If you want to talk about space debris, it's out in the higher orbits that you really need to look. Especially because those are the places where you'd probably want to assemble a large space station (or park big, expensive satellites with large solar collectors), and that stuff doesn't like getting hit by old crap.

Er (-1, Offtopic)

teklob (650327) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641702)

Would someone care to explain this article? Looks like complete nonsense to me, something about a space suit?

Re:Er (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14641790)

The ISS crew wanted to install a radio transmitter in an old space suit and kick this outside. It would circle the world for a few days and stop transmission because of battery exhaustion. Apparently it stopped working long before that. This is very unfortunate because a lot of people were anticipating the 'launch' (i.e. astronauts kicking it out of the window) and there was some kind of puzzle or contest for schoolchildren (listen to the transmissions and note a special word or something). It was covered on /. a few days ago.

it's/its (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14641791)

Can no one at Slashdot get it's/its right? If we're all supposed to be uber-smart computer people, well, computer syntax is important if you program... it's just English syntax. C++ makes more sense? By not fixing it, the editors are just reinforcing ignorance, and that's not the goal of Slashdot. C'mon guys, fix those typos so we can see examples of good programming I mean spelling.

Caveat: This post may contain typos. ^_^

I'm not quite dead yet!!! (4, Informative)

LineGrunt (133002) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641818)

People ARE reporting very weak contacts.

(Although some people are clearly mistaking the signals coming from the ISS with the SatSuit too).

So it is likely that the suit is still on the air, but radiating a lot lower signal than they planned.

I'm still planning on trying to hear it the next two passes here. 11 degrees and 72 degrees. Don't have fancy az/el antennas, but I've worked the ISS and AO-27 from here so I should stand a chance.

Grunts away!

Still alive but weak (3, Informative)

CaptainBJones (895857) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641843)

I was up at 0355L this morning to catch the second (and best) pass to see if I could hear anything and heard nothing... BUT I gave it another shot at 1021L this morning and heard data (somewhat strong at one point...) but not enough to decode. So there still is hope... As for another piece of junk floating around up there it will fall back to earth in about 6 weeks...

Stability (2, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#14643188)

somewhat strong at one point

There is no such thing as a spherically symetric omni antenna. I wonder if the suit has found a stable attitude which points a bad lobe straight down. Other lobes are attenuated by the atmosphere or don't point at the Earth.

Properly designed LEO satellites take into account plasma flow at orbital altitude.

NASA Sucks (-1, Troll)

Wes Janson (606363) | more than 8 years ago | (#14641957)

The goal: throw a spacesuit filled with radios off the ISS, that will act as a public relations stunt by getting the attention of kids around the world for several days.

The result: spacesuit transmits for an hour then dies.

The verdict: NASA can't seem to succeed even at polluting space properly.

Equipment (2, Interesting)

batquux (323697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642131)

Now they've made it sound like anyone with a cheap receiver and a rubber duck antenna will be able to easily pick up this thing's signal full quieting from their basement. Keep in mind we don't know where it is other than "space" (which is rather far away from anyone on earth), it's transmitting at a low wattage, and it's impossible to predict the polarization of its antenna. Give it some time, set your SSTV software up to wait all day for a signal, and try an eggbeater antenna. It's still up there and it's apparently still transmitting.

Re:Equipment (2, Informative)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642453)

Not far away at all. It's only around 200 miles out. The problem is that it only has a line of sight (VHF radio) on a small area of the Earth as it orbits. And the orbit is fairly predictable until it starts to decay.

Re:Equipment (1)

batquux (323697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642541)

Yeah, the distance is kind of a relative thing. Indeed, 200 miles is a much easier contact from space to earth than between two points on the surface of the earth on VHF (especially using a half watt, the dome light on your car is probably more than that). The orbit is fairly predictable for now, but gets worse as more time elapses and can still be a significant source of error. People are picking it up, but it's hit and miss. I guess I'm just saying that it's a little trickier than what people were initially lead to believe, and that it's not a total failure just yet.

Re:Equipment (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642605)

One thing I should have mentioned is that for most of the area of line of sight, unless it passes right overhead, it's not going to get very high up in the local sky. Any buildings or hills could still block the signal.

I don't suppose anyone has made a sat tracking plug-in for Google Earth?

Re:Equipment (2, Interesting)

batquux (323697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642641)

Exactly. Not to mention the doppler shift of any lower angle passes. If you have a really good 10 minute pass directly overhead, you'll only be able to see the signal at 145.990mhz for 4-6 minutes of that pass. And only a fraction of that will be any good because of reasons we've already mentioned. So if it's not a good, overhead pass, you'll be hard pressed to get anything at all. You can, of course, adjust for doppler shift but that's a whole trip in itself.

Re:Equipment (4, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642793)

Exactly. It WAS recieved by many hams with the right gear. A friend of mine that works sattelites all the time was able to get a decent signal and could tell it was suitsat but the audio was garbled because what he said was "the suit must be spinning wierd". He was using a home brew ALT/AZ setup with a nice 2 meter quad and a tower mounted Recieve Preamp.

Everyone trying with their $12.00 radio shack scanner will be very dissapointed.

You know why? (1)

Spackler (223562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642177)

You do understand where astronauts go to the bathroom, don't you? Hmmm, why was THAT suit expendible? Who was sick? We want to know.

I saw the space station this morning (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14642382)

It passes right over my house in northern Minnesota.Nasa allerts me by email,giving the time direction and duration of visability.It looks like a very bright star at -1.I searched the sky hoping to see the suit trailng behind the station,even though they said it would not be visable.I searched and found nothing trailing the station.The temp at 6:10am was 4 degrees farenheit with 40 mph winds.
  In the good old days when drinking and driving was a recreational sport.We would make a wish everytime we threw a empty beer can out the window.I would suggest NASA do the same each time they throw debris from the station.It cant hurt.

Re:I saw the space station this morning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14642502)

Space, the Final Booze-Cruise...

Arghh! (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642393)

Suddenly, the astronauts onboard ISS Remembered protocol

.        O       -- Arghhh!
.     -==X==-
.        |
.       / \
.      /   \

Perhaps they shouldv removed frank from the suit before kicking it out.

Personally I think the suit has been hit by something and is now oriented badly for pickup by earth based people.

Can the folks onboard ISS see it still or has it gone over the horizon?

Why cant I get this silly lameness filter to vanish?

Re:Arghh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14642795)

It's not likely that it's "oriented badly" since it was predicted that the suit would be spinning anyways, so hopefully they didn't design it with only one working orientation.

I work at ISS Mission Control in Houston... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14642498)

... and was able to sneak out a copy of a comm transcript. TDRS picked up the signal at S+30 minutes (*).

SuitSat (SS): (static) ... not funny guys. Houston, EVA3, do you read? ISS, EVA3, do you read? Come on guys, pick me up.

CAPCOM: EVA3, Houston. Please maintain radio silence.

SS: Houston! EVA3. EVA1 and EVA2 insisted that I maintain radio silence during my initiation, too. However, they haven't picked me up yet, and the SAFER pack does not seem to be functional.

CAPCOM: EVA3, Houston. We have lost signal from the experimental AMSAT transmitter you are carrying. Is it suffering from an obvious malfunction?

SS: I had to remove its battery to power my suit. It lost power ten minutes after I was thrown overboard.

CAPCOM: EVA3, replace the transmitter's battery. Completion of its transmission was a condition of the low fare on your secret flight.

SS: Houston, the contract didn't state that I'd be free-floating without power during the transmission!

CAPCOM: Look Bass, why do you think we only charged to for a one-way flight?

SS: GAAAAAH! F*@$ you all, and all of Houston too, you dirty (LOSS OF SIGNAL)

PAO thought we should keep this under wraps, but I think the word needs to get out. Our new adminstrator deserves a metal for this.

(*): "Spacing plus thirty minutes."

Re:I work at ISS Mission Control in Houston... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14642593)

Damn, too much time in MCC... I can't spell anything that isn't an acronym anymore.

He deserves a medal, rather than a metal. (Although, platinum and gold do seem appropriate... and in large quantities.)

image of the suitsat in space (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14642623)



What kind of battery did they use? (1)

HPNpilot (735362) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642840)

I went through the AMSAT site and some others and couldn't find any mention of what they used, just that is was 28 volts.

I wonder if they relied on an aqueous based chemistry, which degrades rapidly below 0 C or did actually use something good for lower temps like LiSO2.

Just curious.

Also, did they even try to put this setup into a temperature/pressure chamber to see how it would work while on the ground?

Garbage out is still garbage (1)

scruffy (29773) | more than 8 years ago | (#14642863)

Why go through the expense and problems of rocketing a satellite from earth when you stuff the electronics in some handy space trash? It's giving me ideas the next time my trash gets picked up.

Audio of Suitsat (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14642950)

Someone managed to record a data burst from the suitsat: 006&p=47 []

Glad I'm not the only one... (2, Funny)

fbg111 (529550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14643297)

NASA's Mission Control Centre in Houston, Texas, says the transmitter ceased operating very quickly after its deployment.

Darn, just like my home wi-fi network. Well I'm glad to hear NASA has trouble with these things too, makes me feel a little less inept...

Nothing heard in Australia either (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14643370)

I had my scanner programmed up (Uniden Bearcat 780XLT), I have a nice Dipole Antenna (Diamond D-130J), and a cron job setup to record whatever it heard according to Heavens Above [] . I'm tapped directly into the descriminator output (ie bypassing the crap audio processing)

I got nothing.

Thinking that I might be a little deaf, I ran the audio file through baudline [] to see if there was anything.

Nada. Just the normal sound card artifacts i get when recording static.

Now, I know I can hear something on this rig, and I know that I understand the graphs on Heavens Above as I was able to use the same setup to predict and capture some weak telemetry from the ISS a couple of days ago.

This was quite disappointing.

Next pass is coming up this afternoon - fingers crossed.

SuitSat Angry? (1)

nodnarb1978 (725530) | more than 8 years ago | (#14643523)

I'd say it's just peeved at being thrown out of an airlock. You'd be just as upset, believe me.

Re:SuitSat Angry? (1)

nodnarb1978 (725530) | more than 8 years ago | (#14643546)

Of course, what we're not hearing is that this was done to prevent SuitSat from taking over ISS and sending it on a mission to Europa [] .

Good timing... (1)

pixel_bc (265009) | more than 8 years ago | (#14643622)

I've been thinking about getting into amateur radio. A few problems, though - and I thought I'd solicit some advice.

a) I'm very urban-bound -- Vancouver, BC -- but a few blocks from the beach.
b) very space limited.

What are my options? I understand I can use handheld radios, but what can I really accomplish with a unit that small? Are portable antennas a real option?

Re:Good timing... (1)

catsRus (548036) | more than 8 years ago | (#14644192)

There are designs for limited space and portable antennas in the ARRL antenna book. Transmission+Lines+%26+Propagation&words= [] Portable antennas are used often in field day events. I wouldn't rule out enjoying amatuer radio due to your living situation. Just need some imagination in making and mounting antennas.

Re:Good timing... (1)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | more than 8 years ago | (#14644376)

What are my options?

Your options are only limited by your creativity.

You might want to make contact with some local hams and local ham clubs. The Burnaby [] and North Shore [] ham clubs are fairly happening affairs (as ham clubs go), though that also means they tend to be very white, very male, and very grey, with few members below the age of 50. C'est la vie, I suppose.

The Burnaby club's swap meet [] is later this month, and is the biggest and best in Western Canada. Be there! The Sun Run is coming up too, and they are always desperate for bodies.

Try the ham radio stores. Burnaby Radio are nice folks. Haven't heard much of Com West lately.

Bear in mind, too, that unlike some other countries (including our southern neighbours), you can listen to anything that's on the radio, and you don't need a license to do so. However, with fairly narrow exceptions, it's a crime to tell anybody what you heard.

Have fun.


can you hear me now? (1)

digitalgimpus (468277) | more than 8 years ago | (#14644112)

can you hear me now? Good.

shielding (1)

RomulusNR (29439) | more than 8 years ago | (#14644355)

Aren't spacesuits radiation shielded? Would that perhaps affect radio propagation?

It's ALIVE (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 8 years ago | (#14648101)

Just when we reported it had given up the ghost [] prematurely, we not find that SuitSat is still alive albeit very weak. The SuitSat web site [] shows weak signal reported from 2006-02-05 05:43:16 on up.
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