Tag Archives: cubesat

Russian student satellite hopes to be the brightest star in sky

A Russian student project hopes its cubesat satellite will become the brightest star in sky when it launches as a secondary payload on a Soyuz-2 rocket on July 14.

Once the small satellite is 370 miles into orbit, it will deploy a pyramid-shaped solar reflector that is designed to capture the sun’s rays and bounce them back to Earth, creating the effect of a twinkling star to Earthlings. The reflector will be 170 square feet, is reportedly 20 times thinner than human hair and is made of Mylar — a thin polymer material.

One goal is for the satellite to outshine naturally existing stars. Another is to evaluate how to brake satellites in orbit and de-orbit them. The Russian team of engineers and space enthusiasts also hope to generate interest in space exploration.

The mission was funded through a Russian crowdfunding website. While everyone is making a big deal about the satellite’s brightness, the engineering being tested to deploy the reflector, control it, and then deorbit the cubesat in a controlled manner is far more important. Up until recently most cubesats had somewhat limited capabilities, and were used almost exclusively to train students on satellite engineering. This mission joins many other recent missions in demonstrating that cubesats will soon be able to do almost anything much larger satellites do, and thus are economically more practically to launch.


LightSail successfully deploys solar sail

Engineers have confirmed that the cubesat prototype LightSail has successfully deployed its solar sails.

This is I think only the second time a solar sail has successfully deployed in space. More significant to me is the fact that it is the first time this kind of complex engineering test has been tried using a cubesat. If cubesats can begin to handle these kinds of tasks, unmanned satellite technology is going to take a gigantic leap forward.


LightSail back in business?

The Planetary Society’s solar sail engineering test called LightSail has re-established communications with the ground, allowing for the possibility that it can finally achieve its solar sail deployment, the main purpose of the mission.

I had previously reported that the sails had deployed, but a commenter correctly noted that only the panels have deployed, not the sails themselves, which need full battery power. The communications problem has been related to a battery charging problem. They are hoping that the batteries will get charged by mid-day today when they will try to deploy the sails.


Amateur astronomers can help a commercial space start-up by taking pictures of its cubesat SkyCube.

Amateur astronomers can help a commercial space start-up by taking pictures of its cubesat SkyCube in orbit.

The cubesate was launched from ISS last week, but has not operated as expected and they want to know why. Images would help.