Space comic opera: the adventure of SuitSat

Reading up on nanosatellites yesterday, I came across an intriguing tale from the recent annals of space exploration: the adventure of SuitSat, a retired Russian space suit that was fitted with a ham radio transceiver and telemetry equipment and set adrift from the International Space Station in 2005. For the next nine months it orbited the Earth, a lonely figure in the heavens. SuitSat was intended to join the network of OSCARs (Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio) that boost ham radio signals around the globe. About seventy such satellites have been launched since the early sixties, solely for the service of the ham radio hobbyists. About twenty are still in orbitóbut not SuitSat. Its signal winked out days after its launch; in September 2006 it reentered the atmosphere over the Southern Ocean, where it burned up in a brief flash of glory. A second SuitSat with solar panels and a video feed planned for launch in 2007 has been delayed, and may go into orbit later this year.

SuitSat 1 ready to deploy on the International Space Station

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