Spring 2006 Issue


SuitSat, Expedition 12 Activity on the ISS, CubeSats, and more

 By Keith Pugh, W5IU

Since the last column, SuitSat was deployed on February 3, 2006; Expedition 12 continues to be very active on the ISS (International Space Station); more CubeSats have been launched; the site that had been chosen (but was changed) for the the 2005 AMSAT Space Symposium was visited during the annual Acadiana Amateur Radio Club Hamfest in Rayne, Lousiana; and working AO-51 mode V/S in the rain at the Green Country Hamfest became a “team effort.”


SuitSat was deployed on February 3, 2006 via an EVA (extra vehicular acivity) from the ISS. The successful deployment received unprecedented coverage in all branches of the media. Unfortunately, a problem developed with the signal strength from SuitSat and only large EME class stations were successful in copying much data. Everything in SuitSat worked, but the signal was approximately 30 dB weaker than planned. After an initial “scramble” to hear anything, telemetry was captured from about February 8–17. Nothing has been heard since February 18, and the batteries are presumed dead. The voltage dropped rapidly from about 26 volts to 18 volts before it went off of the air. As far as we know (as of March 27), SuitSat is still in orbit, but it has to re-enter soon.

Even with the low signal level, SuitSat is considered to be a success. It has shown what can be accomplished in a fairly short time with some imagination and a lot of hard work.

Expedition 12 Activity on the ISS

The Expedition 12 crew—made up of Bill McArthur, KC5ACR, Commander, and Flight Engineer Valery Tokarev—has been very active on the ISS. School contacts have been scheduled at two a week, and general operations have been greatly increased. More than 35 school contacts have been made. SuitSat has been assembled and deployed. Bill has now worked WAC on both VHF and UHF, WAS, and DXCC while on this mission. Many amateur radio operators can now say they have worked the ISS and done so with very modest stations.

SuitSat-1 ready for deployment.

(Photo courtesy of NASA/ARISS)

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