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Suitsat Might Be The Most Bizarre Satellite Ever

Suitsat Might Be The Most Bizarre Satellite Ever

Have you seen the picture of an astronaut like body orbiting the Earth? The picture is bound to disturb you, how is it even possible, or you might think it to be a hoax. But, relax and read on the description given below, which will give you some very pertinent information.

But, before pouring on the information about the Suitsat, you have to first read on a little about the Orlan spacesuit.

There was this Soviet L-3 lunar landing program, which belonged to the 1960s. The simple motive behind this program was to land the cosmonauts on the Moon; this was even before the United States landed the astronaut.

Suitsat Might Be The Most Bizarre Satellite Ever ISS Expedition 12 flight engineer Valery Tokarev, representing Russia's Federal Space Agency, puts the finishing touches on an Orlan spacesuit to be tossed overboard during an upcoming spacewalk. Credit: NASA/JSC.

This mission inculcated transferring cosmonauts between a lunar orbiting spacecraft and lunar landing spacecraft by EVA which implies Extravehicular activity. This is what led to the fabrication of 2 spacesuits.

First was a lightweight emergency rescue suit, and the second one was sophisticated and semi-rigid EVA suit- known as Orlan.

What are the features of Orlan?

  • Orlan was a rear entry suit.
  • It could be put on and put off in just a matter of 5 minutes.
  • It was adjustable.
  • It was first worn in a space walk on December 20, 1977.
Suitsat Might Be The Most Bizarre Satellite Ever Suitsat 1, a very human form, floating freely around the Earth. NASA

Each Orlan suit has a 4 year operational life. This implies it can perform almost 12 EVAs.

A spacesuit can be pressurised to 5.8 psi of pure oxygen. And, a 238 pound suit can render support for spacewalking astronaut for a 7-hour EVA.

What can be done with the suit once it wears off?

If the spacesuit has reached the operational lifetime, it cannot be brought back to the Earth.

And so, Sergey Samburov turned it into a satellite. Brilliant and Amazing!

Suitsat Might Be The Most Bizarre Satellite Ever Russian cosmonaut Maxim Suraev on board the ISS with two Orlan spacesuits. NASA
  • So, the team of Samburov came with the idea of transforming the Orlan suit which was not longer usable to a functional satellite.
  • The plan was to release the suit with its internal batteries attached.
  • The motive of the plan was manifold.
Suitsat Might Be The Most Bizarre Satellite Ever Left: Oleg Artemyev; Right: Sergey Samburov. Russian Federal Space Agency

It would give rise to answers like:

Whether the suit would overheat, after its cooling system was turned off.

Would it be able to transmit while tumbling in the orbit?

How long the batteries last considering life support system would shut down?

It was perfect, since, even an old suit will be able to gather data which could be of aid when making the next generation of Orlan suits.

Hence, the old Orlan well equipped with 3 batteries, sensors and a radio transmitter was punted away, during an EVA in February, 2006. This Suitsat was called Mr. Smith or Ivan Ivanovich.

However, it didn’t last long. The batteries of the Suitsat failed just after 2 orbits. The entire signal weekend and it finally ceased. This was followed by Suitsat continuing to orbit the globe till the time it decayed. It got burned up on its own in the atmosphere of the Earth, over the Southern Ocean on September 7, 2006.

When you come to think about it, it is actually a work of a smart mind to put into use the disused suit!

Suitsat Might Be The Most Bizarre Satellite Ever
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