On July 14, an amateur group in Russia launched a small satellite called Mayak. They said it would become the “brightest star” in the sky. Satellite tracking websites like Heavens Above are already trying to follow it, hoping to offer information on Mayak’s passes over various parts of the world. Heavens Above commented:
We now have a provisional orbit from Space-Track which you can use to generate predictions. Please note that the magnitude estimates are possibly very inaccurate until actual observations are reported.
Track It Here >>> Heavens Above
Mayak is a Russian cubesat developed by a group of young scientists named “Your sector of space” with support of the Moscow State University of Mechanical Engineering (MSUME). Mayak is intended to become the brightest orbital object in the night sky by deploying an optical reflector.
In orbit, the 3U CubeSat will deploy four triangular reflectors, 4 m2 each, which form a tetrahedral shape. The reflectors are made from metallized membrane with reflection coefficient of 95%. The reflector will provide a -10 optical magnitude at the beginning of the flight to allow for easy tracking. Mayak will be put into a tumbling motion over all axes, with at least 1 revolution per second.
The satellite mission has three objectives:
- To demonstrate that space has become closer, and now it’s possible for a group of friends and like-minded people to launch a real satellite.
- To perform real-life tests of an aerodynamic braking system that can be used to de-orbit space debris in the future safely and without a need for a booster.
- To collect new data about atmospheric density at high altitudes and use it as a basis for cross-checks of calulations of apparent magnitude of space objects and satellites.
- Source: Gunter’s Space Page