Spring 2008 Issue

Get Ready for SuitSat-2

Among the many forums at this year’s Dayton Hamvention® will be one given by AMSAT. A topic to be discussed is SuitSat-2. Here W5DID and K9JKM describe the tentative plans for this unique satellite contructed from a surplus Russian spacesuit.

By Louis McFadin, W5DID, and JoAnne Maenpaa, K9JKM

SuitSat-1/RadioSkaf-1 departs From the ISS. Thanks to the success of the first mission, this exciting event will happen again with a new SuitSat-2/RadioSkaf-2 currently in the development and testing stages by the Amateur Radio Aboard International Space Station (ARISS) and AMSAT teams.


The science press called SuitSat-1/ RadioSkaf-1 “the coolest and craziest project NASA ever made.” The entire world—young and old, student and professional, amateur radio operator and SWL—was captivated by the image of the human form leaving the International Space Station (ISS) as the Expedition 12 crew of Bill McArthur, KC5ACR, and Valery Tokarev released SuitSat-1 into orbit.

Despite technical difficulties that allowed only the best-equipped stations to copy its signal, SuitSat-1 has provided to the international space agencies—including NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Russian Space Agency (RSA)—such a successful face on behalf of amateur radio that AMSAT, partnered with the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) project, may get another chance to not only repeat this feat, but now to include additional technical capability and student access to space never before available.

SuitSat-2/RadioSkaf-2 gives radio amateurs around the world the chance to participate in the exciting Amateur Radio in Space program. Here are some of the features of this new mission that we can look forward to:
 

• New SuitSat-2 satellite design building on the original SuitSat mission

• Expanded educational outreach program being developed
• Capability to support four student experimental packages

• 1200-baud AX25 packet digipeater
• CW beacon

• 400 bps PSK telemetry

• SSTV downlink

• FM voice messages

• Crossband U/V FM transponder

• Linear transponder based on software defined radio

• Solar power system to recharge suit batteries

New SuitSat-2 Satellite Design Gives More Capability

Given the short, three-month lead-time constraints when the SuitSat-1/Radioskaf-1 was approved, its basic electronics package consisted of a modified amateur radio FM transceiver to provide downlink-only capability of recorded greetings in several languages. Basic controls, battery-power system interface, and a helmet-mounted antenna were also developed and deployed.
 

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