February 5, 2006
Spacesuit Satellite Still Alive, Giving Weak Signal
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A spacesuit that was tossed out of the international space station after being stuffed with old clothes and a radio transmitter was again sending weak signals as it circled the globe, ham radio operators reported Sunday.
"Death reports were premature," said Allen Pitts, a spokesman for the American Radio Relay League, a Connecticut-based association for amateur radio operators. He said the signals were "weak, cold and really hard to copy, but alive."
The suit, dubbed "Ivan Ivanovich," was released from the space station Friday, looking like a cosmonaut tumbling helplessly through space.
NASA reported late Friday that the spacesuit had ceased transmitting.
The suit is supposed to send recorded messages in six languages to amateur radio operators for several days before eventually re-entering Earth's atmosphere and burning up. The spacesuit also is supposed to transmit pictures, artwork and lessons for schoolchildren on the ground.
Along with the transmitter, the spacesuit has internal sensors to monitor temperature and battery power. Radio operators were supposed to pick up the messages for several days by tuning into FM frequency 145.990 MHz.
The spacesuit project, known as SuitSat-1, was the brainchild of a Russian ham radio operator.
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