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'SuitSat-1' Keeps on Ticking; Low Power Output Eyed:

from W1AW Bulletin via the ARRL on February 14, 2006
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'SuitSat-1' Keeps on Ticking; Low Power Output Eyed:

Space Bulletin 001 ARLS001
>From ARRL Headquarters
Newington, CT February 14, 2006
To all radio amateurs

ARLS001 ''SuitSat-1'' keeps on ticking; low power output eyed

''SuitSat-1''--a discarded Russian Orlan spacesuit equipped with ham radio gear--remains operational more than a week after being deployed from the International Space Station, but its 145.990 MHz FM signal continues to be extremely weak copy on Earth. Speculation now is focusing on extremely low transmitter output power as one explanation for the faint signal. SuitSat-1's sponsor--the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program--continues to seek voice telemetry reports as part of an effort to pin down what might have gone awry.

''The battery life is a big question mark,'' explains ARISS Ham Radio Project Engineer Kenneth Ransom, N5VHO. ''We still do not know if the radio is pulling the normal power and losing it before the antenna or not pulling as much due to lower output. If the latter is true, the batteries will last much longer. That is one reason the battery telemetry is so important. It will help us plot the power consumption.''

Ransom notes that the voice telemetry transmission order is: DTMF tone, CW ID, SSTV image, 30 seconds of silence, voice identification, mission time, temperature and battery voltage. The voice messages, telemetry and SSTV image are being sent on a nine-minute repeating cycle. Post telemetry reports or recordings to Late reports showed the battery voltage holding at 26.7 out of a nominal 28 V. The transmitter, albeit likely at much-reduced output, and the controller appear to be functioning.

AMSAT-NA reports its calculations indicate SuitSat-1's transmitter power likely is in the range of 1-10 mW. The onboard transmitter was supposed to put out 500 mW and produce a signal that could be copied on Earth using modest receiving gear and antennas.

The novel SuitSat-1 Amateur Radio transmit-only spacesuit turned satellite has been heard around the globe since its February 3 launch. Those hoping to get clean copy of SuitSat-1's signal should possess excellent VHF receiving equipment and high-gain antennas. AMSAT-NA has designated SuitSat-1 as AMSAT OSCAR 54 (AO-54).

ARRL ARISS Program Manager Rosalie White, K1STO, said the weekend brought a few reports from teachers who've integrated SuitSat-1 monitoring into their classroom lessons. White notes that the SuitSat Web site has logged some 5 million hits since the beginning of February, and media interest in the project remains high.

Packet mode aboard the ISS has been turned off for the duration of the SuitSat-1 project. Earth stations are advised not to transmit any packet or voice data on the 145.990 MHz SuitSat downlink frequency.

More information on the SuitSat-1 project, including QSL information, is available on the AMSAT Web site

Source: W1AW Bulletin via the ARRL.

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