SuitSat-2 Now Called ARISSat-1


The SuitSat-2 project -- an Amateur Radio satellite housed in a Russian spacesuit -- now has a new name to go with a new shape: ARISSat-1. On Wednesday, August 19, Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) Chairman Gaston Bertels, ON4WF, announced the new name for the satellite and project. According to ARRL ARISS Program Manager Rosalie White, K1STO, the project team is moving ahead, using the same hardware that was to fly in the Russian Orlan suit. Russia will continue to call the satellite Radioskaf-2, so ARISS is designating it ARISSat-1/Radioskaf-2.

Due to storage considerations, the two surplus Orlan space suits in storage on the ISS were discarded via the Progress Cargo Vessel earlier this year. One of these suits was to be used to house the electronics for the upcoming SuitSat-2 mission; the batteries were to be mounted inside the suit, solar panels attached to the extremities with the electronics, video cameras and antenna mounted on the helmet by the ISS crew prior to deployment during an extra-vehicular activity (EVA), commonly called a spacewalk. The removal of the Orlan space suits from ISS removes the "Suit" component of the deployment and the new name reflects the change in configuration.

White told the ARRL that the ARISSat-1/Radioskaf-2 team, through Gould Smith, WA4SXM, made the final decision for the satellite to be square, with solar panels on all 6 sides. "The team is mounting a 70 cm quarter-wave whip on the bottom and a 2 meter quarter wave whip on the top," she said. "All of the hardware and software goes inside the square, and cameras go on the outside." The experiment being developed by Russia's Kursk State University is expected to be integrated into the electronics once the US-produced equipment is delivered to Russia this fall.

AMSAT and ARISS pointed out that the importance of this project to both organizations is not diminished. "ARISS sees this mission as an important component of education outreach, as it will provide an opportunity for students around the world to listen for recorded greetings from space, as well as learn about tracking spacecraft in orbit," White said.

The ARISSat-1/Radioskaf-2 transmitter and receiver will be based on a Software Defined Transponder (SDX) system. It will consist of two major components: The RF Module and the Digital Signal Processor (DSP) module. In the RF module, there will be an up converter that receives a signal from the DSP module as a 10.7 MHz intermediate frequency RF signal with a 50 kHz bandwidth, and up converts it to 145 MHz signal of 50 kHz bandwidth centered on 145.9375 MHz. The receiver is a down converter with a 50 kHz bandwidth centered on 437.6125 MHz. The output of the receiver is a 10.7 MHz RF signal with a bandwidth of 50 kHz. The DSP processor receives the 10.7 MHz signal from the receiver down converter and processes it and outputs a 10.7 MHz signal to the transmitter up converter. The DSP can also inject signals such as the CW ID, telemetry, audio and packet signals as determined by the software on the DSP.

AMSAT calls the deployment of the SDX "a critical milestone" for the organization. "This upcoming flight provides an opportunity to flight test the next generation of spacecraft hardware," Bertels said. "Lessons learned from this deployment will be applied to future flight opportunities as AMSAT moves towards a 'modularization approach' to spacecraft development with the expectation the future spacecraft missions will utilize a derivative of SDX and the associated hardware."

The ARISS International Team has been informed that there is still space available for shipment of the ARISSat-1/Radioskaf-2 electronics on the projected cargo flight to the ISS in January 2010, and the EVA scheduled for April 2010 still has a SuitSat-2 deployment on the schedule.

Plans to launch a second SuitSat-spacesuit-turned-satellite were the subject of discussions and presentations at the November 2006 AMSAT Space Symposium and ARISS International Delegates' meeting. Despite a weaker-than-anticipated 2 meter signal, SuitSat-1 -- a surplus Russian Orlan spacesuit fitted with an Amateur Radio transmitter -- sparked the imagination of students and the general public and turned into a public relations bonanza for Amateur Radio. ARISS hoped to capitalize on the concept by building an even better SuitSat that will include ham radio transponders. The Web site attracted nearly 10 million hits during the mission. Designated by AMSAT as AO-54, SuitSat-1 remained in operation for more than two weeks, easily outlasting initial predictions that it would transmit for about a week. SuitSat-1 re-entered and burned up in Earth's atmosphere in September 2006. ARISSat-1/Radioskaf-2 is expected to be live for at least six months.