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SuitSat Signal Continues to Survive

SuitSat Mission Ends, Russia Says
A solitary, unmanned spacesuit floats away from the International Space Station (ISS) during a Feb. 3, 2006 spacewalk. It is destined to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. (Image credit: NASA/JSC.)

An unmannedspacesuit drifting in Earth orbit is still pumping out a weak radio signalmore than 10 days since astronauts tossed it from the International SpaceStation (ISS), NASA officials said Tuesday.

ISSExpedition 12 commander Bill McArthur and flight engineer Valery Tokarev hurledthe Russian-built Orlanspacesuit, an expired garment packed with clothes and a radio transmitter,into a temporary orbit during a Feb. 3spacewalk.

With theexception of one prematurepronouncement of silence, the spacesuit - dubbed SuitSat byNASA officials and RadioSkaf by their Russian counterparts - continues to sendout a weak signal.

"Thebattery that powered the suit is lasting longer than originally predicted,"NASA spokesperson James Hartsfield said Tuesday during the agency's daily spacestation commentary.

ISS flightcontrollers initially hoped SuitSat would send its message - an image andgreetings in five languages - and telemetry for about 10 days, allowing hamradio operators and students a chance to track the target. The spacesuit itselfis expected to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere a few weeks after deployment.

Theconsistently weak signal may have allowed SuitSat's batter to last longer thanexpected, Hartsfield said.

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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter.