ISS Airlock Handrail Antenna

The ISS Orlan antenna designed and built at Georgia Tech Research Institute offered a unique new form for antennas.  The 2 ft towel shaped antenna doubles as a handrail and allows for communication between suited astronauts within the airlock and the rest of the crew on board.  The ISS Orlan antenna was especially designed to work with Russian spacesuits, which at the time of launch operated on an unusual frequency that barely resonated within the airlock and contained no antennas of their own. The ISS Orlan antenna can also withstand huge temperature swings and forces experienced when space packs hit it.

Craft Overview:

The 2 ft towel bar antenna was built using a special “loop” design that couples a sufficient amount of RF energy tot he astronaut, instead of reflecting the energy off the walls of the airlock.


The ISS Orlan antenna launched as part of the STS-104 mission, where Shuttle Atlantis delivered the completed airlock to the ISS in July of 2001.

Sources and Additional Information:

NameISS Orlan Antenna/ISS Airlock Handrail Antenna
Size2 ft
Launch DateJuly 2001
Principal InvestigatorVictor Tripp