If you were asked what station is currently orbiting 400 km above the Earth at 28 000 km/h you may be tempted to answer the International Space Station (ISS). This is of course correct but if you were to look with a good telescope behind the ISS (or tune in with the appropriate equipment) you may soon pick up a second station: a radio station.
On Friday 3 February, at 23:20 Central European Time the ISS Crew of Valery Tokarev and William McArthur are due to start an EVA from the Pirs airlock of the Russian section of the ISS wearing Russian Orlan space suits. However, a third Orlan spacesuit will be on the spacewalk with them, one that is nearing the end of its useful life. The plan is literally to throw the extra spacesuit overboard. This may not present an obvious link to radio stations but this suit is fitted with amateur radio equipment, which will transmit messages in many different languages during its time in orbit.
The spacesuit with equipment is called SuitSat-1 (also called Radio Sputnik or Radioskaf in Russian). SuitSat is a project sponsored by ARISS (Amateur Radio on the ISS) an international working group of volunteers from national amateur radio organisations. ARISS has been used as an integral part of education activities within ESA Human Spaceflight missions with the aim of developing children’s interest in space and science in general.
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