The window, the window, throw it out the window...
January 26, 2006 7:14 PM   Subscribe

Fancy way to build a satellite -- spend millions of dollars hiring engineers to carefully construct your orbital gem, then millions more on a massive rocket to loft it into space. BORING. Easy way to build a satellite -- shove a radio into a spacesuit and toss it off a space station. Meet SuitSat 1.
posted by eriko (32 comments total)

 
Seems kinda morbid to me. Some poor suit just floating aimlessly in space. And what happens when its orbit degrades and it comes hurtling down to the grown and lands in little Timmys backyard? Who's gonna pay for that kids counseling? NASA?

The transmission ends with a Slow Scan TV picture. Of what? "We're not telling," laughs Bauer. "It's a mystery picture."

Here's hoping it's goatse.
posted by Jawn at 7:36 PM on January 26, 2006


Something of a spacesuit's size would pretty much burn completely on re-entry, no?
posted by Tikirific at 7:40 PM on January 26, 2006


ugh, it's like bradbury's kaleidoscope. osj.
posted by dorian at 7:41 PM on January 26, 2006


Defenestration reaches new heights! Let's hope the radio has a cassette of "Major Tom" cued up, or perhaps a DVD of 2001 set to play Dave's EVA sequence following Frank's spectacularly unsuccessful attempt to replace a malfunctioning Ethernet card.
posted by mwhybark at 7:41 PM on January 26, 2006


This is an excellent companion to the Major Tom video linked to earlier.

Question. Why the spacesuit? Wouldn't it be cheaper to just toss out a vacuum hardened radio, a battery, and a couple of solar cells?

Though, "free" is a pretty good price for a surplus Russian vac suit.
posted by loquacious at 7:49 PM on January 26, 2006


Reminds me of the old saw where NASA spent millions researching how to make a pen write in zero gravity. The Russians switched to pencil.

I see maybe 500 years in the future some guy crashing into this in his Sony LEOV, worried that he hit some old guy and realizing that it's just an old US spacesuit.
...perhaps we should fill it with red jello to really shake him up.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:50 PM on January 26, 2006


Er...Russian space suit.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:50 PM on January 26, 2006


They're probably using a suit so they can find out just how much abuse it can withstand. I get the idea doing such experiments with a suit containing a person would be a bad idea.

If there's no Space Oddity playing, I'll be quite disappointed.
posted by cmyk at 7:51 PM on January 26, 2006


This survived re-entry it seems, Tikirific:


posted by strawberryviagra at 7:55 PM on January 26, 2006


There's a few nutballs out there that want to be the first to do a manned but no-vehicle re-entry.

I'm pretty sure all of the scenarios so far discussed have been non-orbital, which simplifies things. Basically a balloon with a platform or something to the edge of space and a bit beyond, and then a very high altitude skydive in a special pressure suit designed to withstand the extremes.

However, one worry is that the spacediver could become aerodynamically unstable and go into an unrecoverable spin. A spin with enough rotations per minute to tear off limbs, cause strokes or otherwise turn him/her into pulp.
posted by loquacious at 8:07 PM on January 26, 2006


Vac suit. I like saying "vac suit". Vac suit, vac suit.
posted by loquacious at 8:08 PM on January 26, 2006


"May the Farce be with you. Beep. May the farce be with you. Beep. May the farce be with you. beep"
posted by Balisong at 8:10 PM on January 26, 2006


Noun 1. defenestrationdefenestration - the act of throwing someone or something out of a window
posted by skallas at 8:14 PM on January 26, 2006


Vac suit! Vac suit! Vac suit!

so what will they be transmitting, now?
posted by es_de_bah at 8:16 PM on January 26, 2006


Reminds me of the old saw where NASA spent millions researching how to make a pen write in zero gravity. The Russians switched to pencil.

Apparently not true. Graphite particles from pencils can play havoc with sensitive equipment in zero gravity.
posted by Jimbob at 8:16 PM on January 26, 2006


because fenestration refers to openings or appendages on the outside of something, most frequently used in the construction trades. defenestration thus can mean being thrown out of a window. however it can also mean being deprived of arms, legs, or one's manly appurtenance.
posted by quonsar at 8:17 PM on January 26, 2006


"Will the suit overheat? How long will the batteries last? Can we get a clear transmission if the suit tumbles?" wonders Bauer. These are some of the questions SuitSat will answer, laying the groundwork for SuitSats of the future.

I am not convinced that you need to send a suit to space to answer any of those questions. If you wanted to make an ultra-cheap satellite, you might want to start with a small radio and a 2" thick layer of duct tape.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:18 PM on January 26, 2006


I don't know, the idea of a whole bunch of man shaped suitsats floating in space is kind of creepy. Would they be facing up or down?
posted by fenriq at 8:27 PM on January 26, 2006


loquacious, so would the first guy to try it be the bravest or the second guy after the first got turned into atmospheric hamburger?
posted by fenriq at 8:36 PM on January 26, 2006


Hey Strawberry, make with some more source on that helmet! February 1, so that would be from Columbia?
posted by mwhybark at 8:44 PM on January 26, 2006


...you might want to start with a small radio and a 2" thick layer of duct tape.

Radiation.
posted by dsword at 9:01 PM on January 26, 2006


Mwhybark - here you go
From the Guardian.
posted by strawberryviagra at 9:20 PM on January 26, 2006


Um, weird - I actually pasted a shot I found here, I assume it's the same helmet but from a different angle. The caption on the link above is a tad insensitive.
posted by strawberryviagra at 9:25 PM on January 26, 2006


Vac SMOCK!
posted by Guy Smiley at 9:27 PM on January 26, 2006


Keep in mind that the Columbia helmet was completely protected from re-entry for the first fifteen minutes, then still within the cabin structure for an unknown period as it tumbled and broke apart. A naked space suit would not fare as well.

I see maybe 500 years in the future some guy crashing into this

An object in low earth orbit (under 200 miles) has a survival measured in months. An orbit is just a certain kind of very slow fall.

The pen story is bogus. Both the US and Russians use the same pressurized zero-G pen, manufactured privately in the US. What the Russians did use was grease pencils.
posted by dhartung at 9:46 PM on January 26, 2006


I don't know, the idea of a whole bunch of man shaped suitsats floating in space is kind of creepy. Would they be facing up or down?

The first extraterrestrial art piece created by humans. What would we call it? I vote for "Iceberg, Right Ahead!" or "Neglected Goldfish Heaven."
posted by chrominance at 11:08 PM on January 26, 2006


The first extraterrestrial art piece created by humans

I think that honor would have to be this little fella.
posted by Jawn at 1:47 AM on January 27, 2006


er, go to.
posted by Jawn at 1:47 AM on January 27, 2006


loquacious, so would the first guy to try it be the bravest or the second guy after the first got turned into atmospheric hamburger?

Heinlein wrote about a not-quite-the-same-but-still-sorta-the-same situation where 3 soldiers go in for shots from the doctor... the first soldiers gets an air bubble or something in his blood and dies. The second soldiers blanches a bit, but steels himself and dies as well. The doctor tries to refuse to do the third soldier, but he forces the doctor to do it and he survives. Then they do a post-mortem on the second soldier, and it turns out he died of fright.

Umm, that doesn't really have anything to do with anything, I guess... but it just reminded me of that story :)
posted by antifuse at 2:14 AM on January 27, 2006


There's a few nutballs out there that want to be the first to do a manned but no-vehicle re-entry.

Real spacemen with the right stuff don't need no stinkin' spacecraft to get back to Terra Firma. Try the MOOSE suit (Man Out Of Space, Easiest) on for size:
MOOSE was perhaps the most celebrated bail-out from orbit system of the early 1960’s. The suited astronaut would strap the MOOSE to his back, and jump out of the spacecraft or station into free space. Pulling a ripcord would fill an inflatable heat shield with polyurethane. The astronaut would use a small hand-held gas to orient himself for retro-fire, and then fire a solid rocket motor strapped to his chest to return to earth.
Retros on, man!
posted by cenoxo at 3:10 AM on January 27, 2006


Wheee!!! (source)
posted by zsazsa at 6:08 AM on January 27, 2006


Good God. I thought this was something the boys up at the 'Station were working on in their spare time and were, you know, just going to kick it out the door for kicks.

I hadn't realized this was something they were going to work up "back home" and then send up.

I'm sure some high-school science club with a thermally wrapped Igloo™ cooler full of Really Neat Science® is right now collectively yelling "and we lost our payload space for this?!?"
posted by Ogre Lawless at 3:05 PM on January 27, 2006


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