Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lone man found floating in free space?

Folks, before you freak out, let me assure you that these spacesuits are empty.

What you see here is 'SuitSat'. SuitSat also known as Mr. Smith, Ivan Ivanovich, Radio Skaf, Radio Sputnik and AMSAT-OSCAR 54 is a retired Russian spacesuit with a Radio Transmitter mounted on its helmet. The ARISS-Russia team is credited with coming up with the idea as a commemorative gesture for the 175th anniversary of the Moscow State Technical University.

The official designation for SuitSat is AMSAT-OSCAR 54, though it was nicknamed Ivan Ivanovich or Mr. Smith. The radio transmitter used a frequency of 145.990 MHz. However, the SuitSat-1 mission was not a total success. There were very few reports that actually confirmed the receiving of the transmission. NASA late announced that SuitSat ceased functioning after only two orbits due to battery failure, but there were reports suggesting that SuitSat-1 continued transmitting, though far weaker than expected.

Coming to home turf, StudSat, which is a student satellite conceptualized, designed and project managed by undergraduate students across India, is a picosatellite and the first of its kind in India. The StudStat was successfully launched on 12th July, 2010 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre into a sun syncronous orbit. This is the smallest satellite ever launched by any Indian organization indigenously. The mission is experimental in nature and the major objective is for the students to have a hands on experience on the design, fabrication and realization of a space mission at a minimum cost. The mission life is slated to be six months.

The satellite resembles a small cube of size (10 cm x 10 cm x 13.5 cm), weighing just about 850 gm and has a volume of 1.1 litres. The satellite has been launched in 700 km sun synchronous orbit. The satellite will perform the function of a remote sensing satellite and take images of earth's surface with a resolution of 90 metres, the best achieved by any "PICO" category satellite in the world. The satellite consists of the following subsystems

  • Communication sub-system.
  • Power generation and distribution sub-system.
  • Attitude determination and control system.
  • On Board Command and Data Handling.
  • Payload(Camera).
  • Mechanical Structure.
All the above subsystems are designed by students indigenously.

So if we are lucky enough to visit space as tourist in the near future, and if you see couple of spacesuits floating past you, you needn't worry. :)


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