Just before 6 p.m. EST this Friday, the crew aboard the International Space Station will deploy an unusual satellite called “SuitSat.” During a planned spacewalk, the two station crew members will release an unmanned Russian spacesuit into space.

This new satellite will transmit the recorded voices of female students from Paint Branch High School and Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring, Md., that anyone with a HAM radio can hear.

“SuitSat is a Russian brainstorm,” explains Frank Bauer of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “Some of our Russian partners in the ISS program had an idea. Maybe we can turn old spacesuits into useful satellites.” SuitSat is the first test of that idea.

SuitSat consists of a Russian Orlan spacesuit with three batteries, a radio transmitter and internal sensors to measure temperature and battery power. SuitSat will help scientists determine the durability of spacesuits, the life of the batteries that power the suit, and if a tumbling suit affects the clarity of radio transmissions. It will lay the groundwork for SuitSats of the future.

The Suitsat will transmit one of three types of messages for 30 seconds, pause for 30 seconds, and then repeat.

The transmission begins with “This is SuitSat-1, RS0RS,” followed by a prerecorded greeting in six languages. The greeting contains “special words” in English, French, Japanese, Russian, German and Spanish, for students to record and decipher. Awards will be given to students who correctly identify the message. The English-language greetings were recorded by the two Maryland students.

The next message will detail SuitSat’s telemetry: temperature, battery power and mission elapsed time. “The telemetry is stated in plain language in English,” says Bauer. “Everyone will be privy to SuitSat’s condition. It ‘talks’ using a voice synthesizer. It’s pretty amazing.” The transmission ends with a slow scan television picture.

“All you need is an antenna (the bigger the better) and a radio receiver that you can tune to 145.990 MHz FM,” Bauer added. “A police scanner or a hand-held ham radio will work just fine.”

SuitSat is sponsored by an international working group called Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS). It consists of volunteers from national amateur radio societies and the internationally-based Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT).

For more information about the spacewalk, visit:


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