ARISS-EUROPE NEWS BULLETIN FEBRUARY 5, 2006

 

Message from Frank Bauer, ARISS chairman, re SuitSat-1.

 

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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 LISTENING!

 

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 set...it 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 www.suitsat.org 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 monitoring!!

 

73,  Frank H. Bauer, KA3HDO

ARISS International Chairman

AMSAT-NA VP for Human Spaceflight Programs