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AMATEUR RUSSIAN SATELLITE COULD BE THE BRIGHTEST OBJECT IN THE SKY

02-03-2016
by 
in 

If an amateur Russian satellite  that is planned to be launched in mid-2016 goes ahead on its journey, it could possibly become the brightest object in the sky.

Mayak, or "beacon" in English, is designed to orbit opposite of the Sun and reflect its light using its massive sails. According to some reports it could be brighter than the moon.

The satellite does not have any scientific purpose as it won’t be making an observations, the aim of this project is merely to inspire the world to create an ‘artificial star’ that we can look to, with engineers having raised US$22,000 (1.7 million rubles) on Russian crowd-funding site, Boomstarter.

"We are sending a spacecraft into orbit that will be the brightest star in the sky, visible from any point on our planet," project leader Alexander Shaenko, head of the Contemporary Cosmonautics program at Moscow State Mechanical Engineering University, told Sputnik News.

"We want to show that space exploration is something exciting and interesting, but most importantly that today it is accessible to everybody who is interested."

The whole project is run by enthusiasts who want to see the project up and running making it the first Russian amateur satellite to go into plan, if all goes to plan.


The satellite is about the size of a loaf of bread, but it is designed to unfold into a 16 square meter, triangular sail once it gets to 600km above the Earth.

The Boomstarter page states that the sail is made from a thin polymer material, and the engineers are currently working on the aerodynamic braking system that will allow it to move into lower orbit without the help of the engine.

With the help of the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, they will be able to launch the satellite on board its Soyuz-2 rocket as early as July this year.

"Attracting young people to the field of cosmonautics is one of our priorities," a Roscosmos spokesperson told Sputnik News. "Roscosmos works seriously with universities and by supporting projects like Mayak we boost the motivation of students to work for Russian space rocket enterprises in the future."

The team still needs to finish all the testing before they are ready for launch, and the engineers also have plans to build a model of Mayak for the Moscow's Museum of Cosmonautics.

There have been some concerned raised because the artificial star could get in the way of stargazing, or scientists who need to filter light in order to study the sky.

At this time it is not clear how big of an issue this will be. 

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